My parents recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary (yay!) and as a present my brother and I cooked them dinner. I wanted to make something really special, keeping in mind that my parents like to eat pretty healthy. My brother Danny and I conferenced, and we decided that I would make a leg of lamb with some kind of legume salad, and he would make a spiralized zucchini pasta dish. His girlfriend Allison, who used to work at Edible Arrangements in high school, volunteered to make chocolate covered fruits for dessert. With Brandon, it would be just the six of us at my parent’s home, where we grew up, on Long Island. Perfect.
My recipe search was brief. Much to my infinite joy, Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics episodes are now available on Netflix! In one of the episodes, she cooks a beautiful Provençal inspired 4 Hou Leg of Lamb, and this just seemed like the perfect opportunity to spend some time hanging out at home with my family while the lamb roasted in the oven.
Following Ina’s recipe, I gave the lamb a good browning and then added it back into a Le Creuset with a whole bottle of white wine, two whole heads of garlic (cloves separated), rosemary, and thyme. Covered, it then roasted away in the oven for a solid four hours with an occasional basting…
Not bad, huh? I strained and reduced the sauce to make a gravy to serve table side.
When I plated the lamb, I removed the strings and then garnished it with the garlic cloves that had softened and sweetened in the pot along with the lamb. Doesn’t Danny’s zucchini pasta with turkey sausage and red sauce look delicious? It totally was!
Ina served her lamb with beans, but I knew that my mother loves lentils. I sautéed some veggies and garlic until tender, added crushed red pepper, vegetable stock and lentils, and let that simmer away for about an hour until the lentils were soft, having absorbed the stock and vegetable flavors. Yum.
Everything came together beautifully on the plate.
Meanwhile, check out this professional grade chocolate covered fruit plate for dessert featuring strawberries, apples and dried apricots. Allison, you truly outdid yourself!
My parents really enjoyed this meal. I would highly recommend trying Ina’s 4-Hour Leg of Lamb recipe for your next special occasion! You can check out her recipe here.
I hope you enjoy my recipe for warm lentil salad below. It’s a great side dish, it’s undeniably healthy, and it’s got lots of great hearty flavor.
Here’s a picture of me cooking the warm lentils with our E-Z Grip Tongs
Happy Anniversary, mom and dad!
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, de-stemmed and chopped
- ¾ cup green lentils
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
- ¼ tsp sea salt (or, to taste)
- 2½ cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
- Salt (to taste)
- Heat the oil in a medium sized pot. Once hot, add the onion, celery, carrot and sweet potato and cook for about six minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and kale and continue cooking until kale wilts.
- Add the lentils, bay leaf, rosemary sprigs, chili pepper flakes and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30-45 minutes until lentils are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid.
- Season with salt to taste and remove the bay leaf rosemary sprigs before serving. Can be refrigerated and re-heated for up to 5 days.
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