Saffron imparts a rich golden-yellow hue to dishes and has a distinctive hay-like fragrance. It…
Treat your family to this perfectly roasted Sumac and Rosemary Crusted Lamb and fragrant Saffron Pistachio Pilaf. Perfect for a weekend or holiday dinner.
We had a little taste of the Middle East this past weekend. Ro-Ri San took us to the Midtown Global Market in downtown Minneapolis. The market has fresh and prepared foods, restaurants, and arts and crafts from around the world. Our visit was centered around the deli featuring Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods. The setting is bazaar-like with groceries spilling onto the aisles.
It was a busy place with lots to see and taste. There was a sampler spread of pitas, flat breads, feta, hummus, olives, and dates throughout the bazaar. The place was filled with the aroma of kebabs and grilled meats. It seemed like a world away from Minneapolis…..
Middle Eastern Favorites for Lunch
We had a wonderful lunch at the deli. Some of the delicious food we ate were falafel, moussaka, kebabs and tabouleh, chicken gyro, roast chicken, and hummus. The falafel was excellent as it was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The Vegetable Moussaka was more like a stew but it was really good.
Baklava for Dessert
For dessert, we had kataifi and baklava. They tasted very similar to each other but kataifi is made with a form of shredded phyllo pastry. Both have the same filling of walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and honey. They were very sweet but delicious.
Sumac and Rosemary Crusted Lamb – That’s What’s for Dinner!
After lunch, I decided to do some grocery shopping as there were so many things I would like to try. Walking around the bazaar, I saw a great looking chunk of lamb shoulder roast and decided to change my Midwest Easter dinner plans for a Middle Eastern dinner instead. I immediately thought up a menu for the meal and came up with the following menu. I was excited and couldn’t wait to get home to cook dinner.
A Few Specialty Ingredients
I picked up a few other ingredients needed for preparing dinner. They are sumac, pita, and Greek feta. Sumac is relatively new to me. The first time I ever tasted it was at an Iranian restaurant. It has a slightly tart and lemony flavor and is great sprinkled on roasted meats. The pita breads are really fresh as they are made here in Minneapolis. There were 4 kinds of feta being sold – Greek, Egyptian, Bulgarian, and French. They all looked very fresh and I had a hard time trying to decide which to buy. In the end, I went with the Greek feta. I will try the others in my next visit.
I also bought some Deglet Noor dates. They have a caramel color and is medium firm. I like it as it is not as sweet as other soft dates. It is really good as a snack and for baking. I used them in this beautiful loaf of Dates and Granola Bread and this Dates and Zucchini Bread. We immediately headed home after shopping so that I had sufficient time to prepare dinner.
Similar Tools Used in Making This Sumac and Rosemary Crusted Lamb
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Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 11-Inch x 15-Inch Roaster with Flat Rack, Gray
Calphalon Contemporary Hard Anodized Nonstick 16-Inch Roasting Pan with Rack 5 piece Set
KitchenAid Stainless Steel Meat Thermometer
KitchenAid Meat Tenderizer
- 1 lamb shoulder or rib roast (4lbs to 5 lbs/1.8kg to 2.2kg)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp sumac
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Rinse lamb shoulder and pat dry with paper towel.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper all over lamb roast.
- Press sumac and rosemary over entire piece of lamb to form a crust.
- Drizzle olive oil over crust and let it marinade for several hours. If possible, leave overnight.
- Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
- Place lamb on a shallow pan and roast in oven for 15 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 350°F (180°C) and continue roasting for another 1½ hours or until thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 160°F (17°C) to 165°F (74°C) for medium doneness.
- Remove and cover with foil. Let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
Moist and Tender Sumac and Rosemary Crusted Lamb
The roasted lamb turned out to be quite moist and tender. There were a lot of meat and bones to chew on. I like how the sumac and rosemary gave the lamb a really nice crust and flavor. It was delicious!
Saffron Pistachio Pilaf
Saffron and pistachios are two other ingredients often used in Middle Eastern cuisine. I combined both ingredients to make this fragrant and fluffy pilaf garnished with pistachios. The pilaf had a hint of sweetness from the golden raisins and was fluffy and quite delicious.
- Soak saffron in 2 tablespoons warm water for 20 minutes.
- In a medium sized pot, add olive oil. Sauté onions until soft.
- Add basmati rice. Stir to mix well with onions, about 2 minutes.
- Add saffron mixture and water. Bring to a boil.
- Add salt and golden raisins.
- Reduce heat and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
- Turn heat down to the lowest setting and leave pot on the stove for another 5 minutes.
- Turn off stove and remove pot.
- Allow rice to sit for 10 minutes.
- Dish onto plate and garnish with toasted pistachios.
- Serve immediately.