Beat the chill on a cool autumn day with a warm meal. In general I would suggest making meat a limited part of your diet, as a mostly plant-based meal is healthier. But if you eat lamb or other meat, be sure to consider how the animal was raised. We all know the expression ‘you are what you eat’ and it is true of animals. Next pick the right cut of meat and choose a healthy cooking method.
GRILLED LAMB WITH COUSCOUS
Preparation time: 5 minutes. Standing time: 1 hour.
Cooking time: About 20 minutes. Resting time: 15 minutes. Serves: 4
2 lb of Boneless leg of lamb
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ tsp dried oregano or Rosemary
1 medium sized finely chopped onion
1-1/2 cups Couscous (I like to use Israeli)
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Handful of mixed baby greens or arugula, coarsely torn
Place lamb in a large baking dish. Brush both sides of lamb with olive oil; season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Let stand for an hour at room temperature (or in a refrigerator for 2 hours, but return to room temperature before cooking.)
To cook couscous: Heat a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, then onion and cook, until softened, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add couscous and mix to coat. Add broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer, about 10 minutes, until the water is all absorbed and couscous is tender. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork, then stir in a little olive oil and the mint; keep warm. Just before serving, add lemon juice to couscous, adjust seasonings and fluff again.
To cook lamb: Prepare a grill pan under high heat. Or prepare a gas or charcoal grill for direct grilling over high heat. Place lamb on grill pan or on grill rack; cook about 10 minutes each side (turn only once) for medium-rare. Thermometer horizontally inserted into thickest part of meat should register 125°F. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice into thin strips.
To serve: Spoon couscous on warmed plates and top with sliced lamb. Creatively place baby greens or arugula.
ROASTED ASPARAGUS with BALSAMIC and PARMESAN
Preparation time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 10 minutes. Serves: 4
1 lb fresh asparagus, tough ends broken off
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
Garnish: Thinly sliced fresh Parmesan
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Place asparagus in a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic; tossing to coat. Bake for 10 minutes, turning once. To serve: Place in warm dish and add parmesan.
CARROT SOUP WITH SPICY YOGURT
Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 40 minutes
Chilling time: 15 minutes. Serves: 6
1-1/2 cups + 4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups finely chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup dry white wine
3 lb carrots, chopped (12 – 15 medium carrots
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Salt, to taste
Garnish: ½ tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp turmeric and 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt.
Over medium heat in a large saucepan, put 1½ cups vegetable stock; add onions and garlic. Cover and cook until onions are translucent; add wine, cook 5 minutes. Add carrots and 4 cups vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce and cook covered until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Pureé in blender, season.
Prepare garnish: Toast spices in small dry skillet 1 minute, shaking well; cool. Mix in yogurt.
To Serve: Ladle soup into heated bowls, top with yogurt mixture. Enjoy!
Hint: Finely grated carrot can also be added on top of the garnish. Or mix all together and make a dip for fresh vegetables.