May 29, 2009

A Mediterranean Morsel

There seems to be a "chocolatey" and dessert theme happening out there in the blogosphere. And given the nature of my last two posts, I feel the need to eat something healthy. Does that mean I will compromise on taste and gastronomic pleasure? Not on your Nelly. I feel like something good and wholesome yet luscious and brimming with all those Mediterranean flavours I love. Something that will satisfy the appetite, pounce on the palate and leave me feeling completely nourished yet slightly spoilt.

Well it was a bit of effort to reach that point; but, my oh my was it worth it! Really, I can't tell you how good it made me feel and I will pass on dessert thank you and just have a nice glass of red. Simply magnifique. I'm happy.

Lamb Bruschetta with Zucchini, Eggplant and Garlic Yoghurt.

First of all I purchased two mini trim lamb round roasts. I think it is the part of the leg that has been deboned and you are literally left with nothing but beautiful meat. What I like to do is tie them up as tightly as possible with some twine. Then I smother them with wholegrain mustard and generously scatter them with coarsely ground black pepper. In a very very hot pan with a little olive oil, sear all sides of the lamb till nice and brown. Each side should take no more than one and a half minutes. Place them on a rack over a baking tin with a little water and place in a very high preheated oven. I baked these for about 40 minutes.

I like to rest them on a plate. This way any juices that escape can be reserved. As I slice the meat finely I douse the slices in the juice so that it can be reabsorbed back into the meat. For best results, it is preferable to allow the meat to cool down, refrigerate, take back out, bring to room temperature and then slice. See what I mean about a bit of effort. But that's me being fussy. You can of course slice and eat it right away, its just that the meat is less likely to tear. Either way she tastes great. I use these cuts often and the meat is very versatile with loads of uses. My hubby loves slices of lamb on fresh bread with cheese and tomato relish. Jeepers we are out of relish and I think I know what my next post is going to be. It also works really well with green lettuce, caramelized onion and aioli. It's also terrific presliced, wrapped up and then presented on a platter outdoors or on a picnic. We had a gathering at the farm a while ago with some of hubby's soccer mates and when I put the lamb out on the table it went down a treat. It was an absolute hit. Try it.

Take a couple of small zucchini and mini eggplant. Slice them into even rounds.

I fry them separately. Eggplant takes marginally longer to cook than zucchini. Heat some olive oil in a frypan then toss in the eggplant. The eggplant is likely to soak up the oil very quickly. Add some water if necessary to help it cook through. Eggplant is one of those veggies that really needs to be cooked through. When it is almost ready throw in one green shallot that has been roughly chopped. Cook for one more minute then turn out onto a plate. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper. I also like to add some uncooked white spring onion for a nice contrast in texture and flavour.

In the same pan heat some more oil and toss in the zucchini. I like to fry these on a higher heat because they do not take as long to cook as the eggplant. I love to get some nice colour on them as well; makes them so much more appealing. When almost done add some more chopped green shallot and follow the same procedure as with the eggplant when you turn it out onto a plate. It is really important to add the vinegar, seasonings and spring onion to the veggies whilst they are still warm because then they take on the flavours so much better.

To make your garlic yoghurt simply take a couple of tablespoons of some really thick Greek yoghurt, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, one clove of crushed garlic and mix till really well combined. Put back in the fridge till ready to use. If you have some fresh mint handy then feel free to put in a chopped tablespoon. I didn't have any and I refuse to purchase a whole bunch when I only need a little. I decided that I would enhance my bruschetta with some homemade roasted capsicum that had been marinating in olive oil, crushed garlic and balsamic for about one month. When I opened the jar I couldn't believe the intense aroma that hit me. Just glorious.

Now the fun part begins. I cut some slices of fresh ciabatta and assembled two on a plate. On one I placed some red oak leaf lettuce, topped with lamb, eggplant, garlic yoghurt and yellow marinated capsicum.

On the other I placed some green oak leaf lettuce and rocket,topped with lamb, zucchini, garlic yoghurt and finished off with red capsicum. You could drizzle with a little more olive oil if you like but I was happy with mine as is.

Yum, yum, yum. I call these little morsels 'food from the gods'. Thank you lord.



  1. I hope you continue such tasty delights when I return to the G Coast. I've started cooking with capsicum, surprisingly enough, and hope to cook a range of other foods before I return home so I can truly treasure all that you have to offer, Mama. These days, I would chomp this down quicker than you could cook it! You'd be proud! :D

  2. As my dad would say 'Careful, you might fall off that sandwich!' Looks delicious, Mariana, so many of my favourite flavours. It's nearly dinner time here and just looking at this is making me really hungry. Still, the husband is on his way home from work and he's going to pick up that rare, Friday night treat - proper fish and chips. Mmmm.

  3. Well I nearly fell off my chair! You and capsicum have never been friends so I am amazed! And thoroughly delighted. Wow, there must be some Balkan in you after all. Oh gosh, the treats you that will be in store for you now that you have discovered capsicum. Welcome to my world dear daughter - it's about time!

    Actually Debora that is one of the "must do" things in my lifetime. Eat some good ole fish and chips in England. I'm sure you would have lots of recommendations for me. I haven't been too impressed for years now with our aussie versions. Glad to hear you approved of my "sandwich".

  4. a glorious sandwich if there ever were one! and I love that you had a jar of red bell peppers in the fridge just waiting to top that mouthful

  5. I had defrosted the lamb for dinner and cropped the veggies to go with it. I sat down at lunchtime to read your blog a low and behold we had picked the same basic menu. I hadn't planned to make the garlic yogurt but it looked so "right". I went ahead and added it to my menu. Delicious. Unfortunately my capsicum has not held up as well as yours. It has been in the fridge for a while and upon inspection, I think it is past its prime. Shame as I have another two jars in there!!! Fantasic pictures. I need to put a box of Kleenex next to the computer when I read your blog...drool, drool. :-)

  6. Welcome Lady P and thank you so much for the lovely compliment. Oh yes, red bell peppers as you call them are my favourite veggie. I think my fridge would feel naked without them, either fresh in the crisper, marinating in a jar, cooked in a relish or topping or dip, etc etc etc. Just gotta have 'em.

    Sounds a bit like you and I are in sync Linda with lamb on the menu. I'm so pleased to hear you liked the garlic yoghurt; tzatziki would also work really well.
    My capsicum was in the fridge for over a month! I was surprised it lasted so well, however I should add it was full to the rim with oil, so I think that really helps with the keeping time.

    Oh you are so good for my ego Linda; tissues next to the computer; oh really you are too much. Hehehe!!