Monday, April 20, 2009

What's for Dinner?

After the butchering debacle of Easter ( I mean I love meat, don't get me wrong, but there is something about carving a whole leg!) I knew I had to do something with the 7 lbs. of leftover meat in my fridge, or risk feeling guilty for being wasteful and impulsive. I didn't want the poor little guy to have sacrificed himself for naught. Plus, lamb ain't cheap! I knew there was a way to eat lamb for days on end without becoming bored, sick, or worse. The fact that this week was also spring break helped immensely, since I get really bored when I don't work and I need projects to keep me busy. Therefore, I decided to give myself a little dinner challenge for the week. It looked like so:

1. Create five meals for the week using up all of the remaining lamb.
2. Lamb can only be the main ingredient of one meal
3. Round out each meal only with items already in the pantry and refrigerator
4. All meals must be healthy and designed to feed 4 (that way E could take the rest for lunch the next day)
5. No repeats!

It turned out to be pretty easy, since I also wanted to use up ingredients I had purchased for Easter dessert and side dishes, but I did have to get a little creative to keep from getting entirely sick of meat. I started with the aforementioned 8 lb. leg of lamb, 1/2 tub of ricotta, 1 bag arborio rice, 1 c. Greek yogurt, several lemons and a bunch of mint. These ingredients led me to make the following dinners:

Monday: Grilled Marinated Lamb
This is essentially what we ate on Easter Sunday.
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1 c. olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbls. dijon mustard
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. fresh oregano
juice of 1/2 lemon

Pulse 1/2 oil and remaining ingredient in a blender to combine. While blending on low speed, add remaining oil in a thin stream until marinade is thickened. Set 1/4 cup marinade aside and pour the rest over lamb. All of the lamb was marinated overnight, then grilled for 3-5 minutes per side. We served with a salad of mixed baby greens, grape tomato, and green onion tossed with remaining marinade.

Tuesday: Spiced Lamb Pita Pizza with White Bean Hummus
This meal was inspired by the lamacun I used to eat when I worked in a Turkish restaurant in Rhode Island. It was one of my favorites. Lamacun is just a meat pi, but the hummus and yogurt sauce made this really tasty. I've made hummus many times, but all I had was white beans in the pantry, so that was a first. The texture and flavor were both really similar to hummus with chick peas, so we didn't really notice the difference! These pita pizzas were so good, we had to stop ourselves from eating before we got sick! I will definitely be making these again.

Wednesday: Sauteed Vegetable Risotto
After making lamb stock on Sunday, I used it for this risotto. I always try to cook at least one "vegetarian" meal per week. Heart health and carbon footprints and all that jazz! You can really make this with anything!

Thursday: Lamb Ragu with Polenta
I made the Ragu with the remaining grilled lamb, pulsed in the food processor until finely chopped. Therefore I skipped the browning step in the recipe and just added wine and the lamb at the same time. I served this over polenta with a side salad. Mmm... polenta.

Friday: Vegetable Lasagna
Okay, so arguably this is not the most creative way to end the week, but it was Friday and I was over it! The leftover ragu became part of the sauce for this dish.
1 c. ricotta
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 c. shredded parmesan
1 egg
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Beat all ingredients to combine.

2 cups lamb ragu
2 large cans of crushed tomato
1 cup of cooked chopped spinach
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 c. sliced mushrooms
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir ragu, spinach and tomato in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Saute onions and mushrooms in a little olive oil until tender and add to sauce. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
To assemble lasagna, pour 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9 by 9 glass pan. Layer two sheets of Bertoli no-boil lasagna. Top with 1/4 filling and 1/2 c. sauce. Repeat 3 times. Top final sheets of lasagna with sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes.

Overall, the challenge was a success, especially since E had no idea we were eating lamb half the time. Everything was delicious, everything was health conscious, and it's all gone. I don't think I'll be buying lamb for quite a while though!

1 comment:

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