It’s hot today; we’re officially four days into summer and it’s 90℉ in the city (that’s 32℃ for those from the old country). When it gets hot and sweaty like this the last thing I want to do is spend a long time over the stove. I want food that is quick to prepare, flavourful but not too rich. Spicy is good, so is sharp. So today I decided to make some gorgeous lamb sliders. Even though they’re fried, they cook in just a few minutes and with a bit of organisation I can go from fridge to table in thirty minutes.
The other thing that’s great about this meal is that it would make great picnic food. The lamb sliders would be still tasty cold, and the salad; missing delicate green leaves; could last a while in the cooler and a subway ride to Central Park. So whether you fancy making a quick supper at home, or want to take these to the park for a lazy afternoon, you can’t miss.
Other than the lamb, the main ingredient of these sliders is a foraged green known as Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album). I picked up a bunch from Windfall farm and recalled seeing a couple of recipes using them inForaged Flavor, my go-to book for all things foraged. In there, Eddie Leroux has a recipe for curried lamb and lambsquarters meatballs that served as a basis for my dish. I made a small change in the process, opting to avoid using a food processor by chopping the lambsquarters before cooking them and using a bit more egg to keep things together. The result is more workmanlike sure, but certainly still tasty. The other change I made was more pronounced. Instead of curry powder in the original recipe, I couldn’t resist matching up the lamb with some ground cumin. It just sends everything to the South and East of the Mediterranean and that is no bad thing. I’d also just picked up some Kirmizi Biber from Kalustyan’s and adding it to the meat made perfect sense. It’s a type of Turkish dried chilli pepper that has a smoky sweet saltiness to it, almost somewhere between paprika and chilli pepper.
And to go with the lamb sliders I wanted a salad that would stand up to the meat, and enjoy getting stuffed into a pitta bread with it. So I decided to go for a very quick and simple dish of grated carrots and beets, left to marinate in a spicy dressing of oil, lemon juice, honey and some more of the wonderful Kirmizi Biber pepper. I made a little extra and will no doubt be tucking into it for a midnight snack later tonight.
- 8oz ground lamb
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped finely
- 1/2 bulb fresh garlic (or 2 cloves regular garlic), finely chopped
- 3oz Lambsquarters leaves, finely chopped, with a few reserved for garnish
- A dash of olive oil
- An egg, lightly beaten
- A teaspoon ground cumin
- A teaspoon Kirmizi Biber (substitute with 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tsp sweet paprika)
- A little canola oil for frying
- Half a lemon
- Pita bread to serve
- Gently fry the onion and garlic in a large skillet for a few minutes until softened, then add the lambsquarters leaves and a generous three-finger pinch of salt. After a few minutes they will have turned bright green and cooked down a little. Turn the heat off.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the lamb, egg and spices. Add the cooked lambsquarters and mix everything together well. Separate the mix into four patties (two sliders each!). The mixture will be quite wet from the egg, but that's ok. Shape into rough balls and flatten.
- To cook the meatballs, add a little canola oil (a couple of tablespoons should be fine, especially if you're using a nonstick pan) to a frying pan and get nice and hot over a medium flame. Add the sliders and fry till nicely brown and a little crispy on the bottom, about five minutes. Turn over and give them another couple of minutes.
- When they're done, wheak out of the oil and drain on a piece of kitchen towel. Squeeze a little lemon juice over them while still hot.
- To serve, pop them in warm pita bread with a little carrot and beet salad (recipe below), a dollop of yoghurt and a couple of the raw reserved lambsquarters leaves.
- 6 small - medium Carrots
- 2 medium Beets
- 1 tablespoon Black Sesame Seeds
- Juice of half a Lemon
- A dash of honey (about a teaspoon if you're keeping count)
- As much oil as lemon juice
- A two finger pinch of cumin
- A three finger pinch of Kirmizi Biber pepper (substitute with half cayenne, half sweet paprika)
- Peel and grate the carrots and beets into a mixing bowl and scatter over the sesame seeds.
- In a jar with a lid mix together the oil, lemon juice, honey, spices and a good grind of salt and pepper. put the lid on and shake well to mix. Pour over the carrot and beet mix and stir well to combine.
- You can eat this immediately, but if you have the patience or forethought then set it aside for thirty minutes to let the flavours mingle.
Pairing with Lamb Sliders
Hot weather + slightly spicy food + pink food = a perfect match for a dry fruity Rosé. If I was going with beer I’d want whatever came out coldest from the cooler; if it was a Red Stripe I would be a very happy puppy though. And if I was being a fine law abiding citizen not drinking in the park I would be having a delicious mint lemonade.
Lamb: Aberdeen Hill Farm
Lambsquarters: Windfall Farms
Onion: Paffenroth Gardens
Fresh Garlic: Lani’s Farm
Cumin, Kirmizi Biber: Kalustyan’s
Pita Bread: Damascus Bakery
Carrots: Hoeffner Farm
Beets: Stokes Farm
Eggs: Quattro’s Game Farm