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Modern Spins on Spring Traditions

03/28/2017 01:30 ● Published by Family Features

From Easter to Passover to the Kentucky Derby and beyond, there is a lamb dish for nearly every spring occasion.  

While many traditions rely on lamb as a centerpiece, it doesn’t have to be prepared like grandma’s overcooked, tough and often tasteless roast. Today’s home cooks are forgoing the jar of mint jelly and using fresh mint in pesto and salsas, while serving their lamb medium-rare to preserve its tender juiciness.

If a rack of lamb is your preferred cut for spring celebrations, the American Lamb Board offers six simple steps for the perfect entree. For those who opt for roasting a boneless leg of lamb that is tender and full of flavor, try using these step-by-step instructions for a succulent lamb roast. For a real showstopper, turn off the oven, fire up the grill, butterfly a leg of lamb, season well and grill to desired doneness.

Toss grandma’s jar of mint jelly and brighten up your feasts with fresh condiments like this Mint-Pistachio Pesto or a Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Sea Salt. For more tips and spring celebration-worthy recipes, visit americanlamb.com/spring/.

Mint-Pistachio Pesto

Recipe courtesy of the American Lamb Board

  • 1          cup shelled, toasted, unsalted pistachios
  • 1          cup fresh mint leaves 
  • 1/2       cup fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4       cup, plus 2 tablespoons, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2          tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1          tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1          teaspoon lemon zest
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • pinch of red chili flakes
  1. In food processor, pulse all ingredients until mixed but still somewhat chunky.  

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Sea Salt

Recipe courtesy of the American Lamb Board
  • 1/2       cup coarse sea salt
  • 1/4       cup fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 1/2-3   pounds boneless leg of American lamb, trimmed and butterflied
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2          lemons
  1. In food processor, grind salt and rosemary leaves together until mixture is texture of coarse sand.
  2. Season lamb generously with rosemary salt, working it into all crevasses; it should take about 2 tablespoons. Set lamb aside at room temperature at least 30 minutes before grilling, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.
  3. Heat charcoal or gas grill. Pat lamb dry, if needed, and rub lightly with olive oil to coat.
  4. Grease grill grates with oil and place lamb on hottest part of grill. Cook with grill covered, turning once, until brown and crusty.
  5. Move lamb to cooler part of grill and continue cooking until instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 130° F for medium-rare, 15-25 minutes total. Transfer lamb to platter, cover with foil and let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting into thick slices against the grain.
  6. Halve lemons and brush cut sides lightly with oil. Place cut-side down on grill until deeply charred, 2-3 minutes.
  7. Arrange lamb slices on large platter or directly over salad. Serve with charred lemon halves for squeezing and additional rosemary salt.

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