Roast Lamb with Za'atar

This past weekend, Saturday was a cool summer day, full of rain. When the weather is gloomy, I always get in the mood for a roast. Besides a tender roast beef, I love cooking lamb. Lamb and beans is not only a hearty, warming meal, but one of the top ways I like to cook lamb. The reason I (and the Hubby) rave about it so much is that the lamb is placed on a rack over a roaster full of white and navy beans. All the drippings from the lamb are saved and meld with the beans. This turns simple ingredients into a side dish packed with intense flavour. Both the Hubby and I prefer to eat the beans over the meat!

The secret star to this dish is za’atar seasoning. Za’atar is a Lebanese spice mixture of ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and sometimes sumac is added. Sumac contributes a wonderful lemon zip. I go on kicks where I add za’atar (zaatar/zatar) to everything, but it really is delicious. I’ve thrown it onto chicken, into dips, on lamb, and it can make a dish next level.

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Spice Mix for the Lamb and Beans

Ingredients

  • 4 stalks oregano
  • 6 stalks thyme
  • 5 sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons za'atar
White Kidney and Navy Beans
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White & Navy Beans

Ingredients

  • 6 pieces bacon (lardons)
  • 1 small onion (chopped small)
  • 2 small leeks (sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 540ml cans navy beans
  • 1 540ml can white kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons herb mix (see previous recipe)
  • lightly salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 sprigs oregano
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

  • In a roaster or wide dutch oven, fry the bacon lardons until almost crisp.
  • Add the onion, leeks, and cumin seeds, and saute until the onions soften and begin to turn clear. (Add a drizzle of olive oil if more fat is needed.)
  • Add the minced garlic. Sauté for 1 more minute.
  • Add the cans of beans – including the juices, the herb springs, the seasoning mix, and stock. (And potatoes if using.) Lightly salt and add fresh ground pepper to taste.
  • Remove from heat and add the lamb.

Notes

I like to put 2 cans of white navy beans into the mix, but the store had zero on the shelf! I added 6 quartered medium potatoes into the pot instead of a second can. As I adore potatoes, this tasted just as wonderful.
This can also be done on the BBQ on medium heat.
Don't salt as much as you want to at the start, lightly salt the bean mixture at the beginning and then add additional salt when completed. This is due to the fact that the stock may contain salt and the lamb is salted.
Roast Lamb with Za'atar
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Roast Lamb Leg

Ingredients

  • 1 lamb roast/leg (small roast)
  • 1 oven-safe meat thermometer
  • sea salt for salting roast

To add to remaining spice mix:

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons aleppo pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (or medium heat on a BBQ).
  • Truss the lamb so it is in an evenly shaped cylinder.
  • Generously salt the lamb on all sides.
  • Combine the above spice ingredients with the remaining spic mix. Rub the mixture into the lamb, covering it entirely.
  • Place a rack on top of the roaster and then the lamb onto the rack. Insert the thermometer.
  • Roast the lamb until the internal temperature is 140° (approximately a couple hours).
  • Once done, remove the lamb, wrap in tinfoil and let rest for 30 minutes.
LAMB & BEANS

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