the easter lamb


slow roast spiced lamb with pomegranate & saba sauce & cauliflower puree 

During my time in the wine industry Easter was the unlucky holiday that fell during the busiest time of year: vintage. So apart from the odd chocolate egg scoffed in between filling barrels or crushing grapes, Easter for me has pretty much been a non event. A long weekend of hard work, like all the other weekends during vintage that I’ve pretty much spent in some dank cellar up to my elbows and sometimes my knees in skin staining red grape must….not such a good look.

But this year for the first time in five whole years, I found myself with the whole Eater weekend before me.. Four whole days to sleep in, read by the fire, watch DVDs, play with my new digital camera, and cook in my mum’s huge dishwasher equipped country kitchen….bliss.

It always amazes me that each year at this time my favourite food mags run an article about a Greek inspired Easter menu. Now don’t get me wrong I love Greek food, but a springtime Greek menu just doesn’t feel right when the leaves are starting to turn and there’s the undeniable chill of winter in the air. So this year I’ve opted for an autumnal Easter menu. I was planning on starting out with a fabulously reliable twice baked cheese souffle but got sidetracked playing with my new camera.  So we ended up with a quick and easy starter of crunchy celery stalks served with a creamy parmesan cheese dip. Lamb still stars as the main event but the support acts are cauliflower and pomegranate based rather than the springtime favourites asparagus and artichoke. Dessert still has some Easter chocolate influences but balanced with the caramelised custardy goodness of creme caramel….all good things…

a family easter feast
celery sticks with potted cheese
slow roasted spiced lamb with pomegranate and saba sauce
cauliflower puree
sauteed broccoli with toasted almonds
bonet alla piemontese

celery sticks with potted cheese
serves 6
Adapted from a recipe by Jill Dupleix in  The London Times.  Jill uses good English cheddar and sherry or port in her potted cheese recipe and serves it with pears as a dessert/cheese course. I’ve made my version non alcoholic and creamier to serve as a starter. The thing I like about this is that it gives your guests an option of either nibbling on a virtuous celery stick or indulging in some creamy cheesy goodness. You can play around with the types of cheese you use, just adjust the butter levels accordingly if using softer cheeses.

80g parmesan cheese, grated
80g unsalted butter, softened
30g cheddar cheese, grated
1t worcestershire sauce
40g philadelphia cream cheese
celery sticks to serve

Puree all ingredients in a food processor until whipped and smooth. Season to taste and place in a serving dish and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or if you’re in a hurry bung it in the freezer for as long as you’ve got.

Place celery on a serving platter and season well with s&p before serving along with the cheese mix.

slow roasted spiced lamb with pomegranate and saba sauce and cauliflower puree
serves 6
Amalgamated from a few different recipes: Gourmet Traveller’s slow roasted lamb with dirty rice for the lamb spices, Jane & Jeremy Strode’s Pomegranate and Saba sauce to serve with lamb (they just use fresh pomegranate and saba but I used pomegranate molasses to give it a more intense hit), and Karen Martini’s cauliflower puree. Karen just uses cauliflower and butter in her puree but I added a couple of well mashed spuds to make it a bit more substantial but far sweeter and lighter than traditional mash.1 shoulder or leg of lamb, bone in (approx 2kg)
1t each ground cumin & coriander
1t fennel seeds
1t fenugreek seeds
4T olive oil
4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
2 brown onions unpeeled, tops and tails removed and sliced into 3 chunks each.
4T saba (balsamic vinegar glaze)
3T pomegranate molasses
1 pomegranate, seeds reserved
1/4C chicken stock
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florettes
2 medium desiree potatoes
100g butter, chunky diced

Preheat oven to 150oC. Ensure lamb is at room temperature. Mix spices with oil and rub paste all over lamb. Place onion slices in the base of a roasting dish to form a platform and position the lamb on top of the platform. Cover baking dish with aluminium foil and bake for approx 2 hours. Remove foil and continue to roast until lamb is meltingly tender, approximately another 2 hours. When lamb is cooked cover with foil and allow to rest in a warm place for at least 15mins before carving.

For the cauliflower puree: simmer whole potatoes in plenty of boiling salted water until tender. For the last 15mins of cooking add the cauliflower florets and simmer until cauliflower and potato are cooked. Drain and puree cauliflower in a food processor until smooth. Gradually add butter one chunk at a time until all incorporated.

Transfer puree to a bowl. Pass potatoes through a potato ricer (the best thing about these things is that you don’t need to peel the potatoes before hand.  The skin stays inside while the mashed spuds are pushed out) or a coarse sieve. Add potatoes to puree and whisk to combine.

For sauce, combine pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses, saba, and stock in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 15mins until you have a nice saucy consistency.

To serve: divide puree between plates. Place a piece of roast onion to one side and top puree with thick slices of lamb. Drizzle sauce over the top of the lamb.
broccoli with toasted almonds
serves 6 as a side dish
Inspired by Karen Martini’s recipe in the Sun Herald many moons ago. Finishing the broccoli cooking with a quick saute with anchovies and garlic and serving with crunchy toasted almonds gives it the complexity of flavour it needs.

2 smallish heads broccoli, cut into florets
2T extra virgin olive oil
3 anchovies, drained and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1T white wine vinegar
1 handful sliced blanched almonds, toasted

Place cauliflower in a microwave proof dish and cook for approx 3 mins until almost cooked but still slightly crunchy. Heat olive oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat and add anchovies and garlic and cook 1 min. Add steamed broccoli and saute for approx 5 mins until broccoli is cooked through and warm. Toss through vinegar to deglaze the pan and season with s&p. Serve topped with sliced almonds.

bonet alla piemontese
serves 8
For a change I pretty much followed a recipe for this dessert. You can find it on one of my all time favourite food blogs The Traveler’s Lunchbox. You can find Melissa’s recipe HERE. The only alteration I made was to replace the amaretti biscuits with 1/2cup of chopped walnuts. This is a great Easter dessert because it incorporates the two most popular Easter elements: eggs and chocolate. If you are trying to cater for a crowd with a mix of chocoholic and choc neutral people this dessert will delight everyone.



  • mmm… this looks delicious. i love lamb… especially when it is roasted and pink like this.

    i sent you an email a few moments ago, as the comment thingie wasn’t working for some reason. now it is,,, it appears! :)

  • have discovered your blog in the last few weeks and have made a few of your great recipes. Tonight cooking your slow cooked lamb with pomegranate & saba sauce. Have googled saba with no results. Am using vinno cotto, and fresh pom’s. Will it work?
    Sandy S

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