Weeknight CookingWhat to CookMiddle-Eastern CookingDinner, FasterMeat

The Deceptively Simple Lamb and "Rice" Dinner You'll Make All Summer

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Lamb isn't a go-to meat in my cooking rotation. I always think of it as a special occasion protein, better suited to Easter feasts or fancy Sunday night meals of grilled lamb chops. Occasionally, we make lamb burgers using a recipe that my fiancé is famous (in my eyes) for, with a gooey center of smoked mozzarella cheese. But until recently, if I wanted a quick weeknight dinner using ground meat, I always opted for pork or beef or turkey.

That changed when I discovered a recipe from Sunbasket for spiced lamb patties over "riced" cauliflower. Sunbasket is a ingredient-based meal delivery company, similar to Blue Apron or Plated, and while I go back and forth on the merits of such a service for my own life (and I'm quite sure many of you would have strong opinions!), anything that encourages and helps get more people cooking is positive in my book! Since the success of these companies rests on having reliable and impressive recipes for home cooks, I wasn't surprised to find lots of interesting dinner ideas in their recipe archives. Whether or not you're into the whole subscription box concept, we can all benefit from more inspiration in the realm of simple, flavorful weeknight dinners.

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Photo by Posie Harwood

When it comes to dinner, I want something that doesn't require too many pans or steps. I want it to be nutritious and satisfying and balanced, but I don't want to always end up with a chicken breast alongside grains and vegetables. Today's recipe, which I've tweaked and adapted from that original Sunbasket version, checks all the boxes and more.

Instead of shaping the ground meat into patties, I take a shortcut and simply cook the meat in a pan with some Middle Eastern spices. Often I use baharat or hawaijj spice, but if you can't find either blend, you can approximate it with what you do have. I serve the spiced lamb over a mix of cooked "riced" cauliflower and raw, fresh vegetables. The contrast of cold and hot here is fantastic: The warm, garlicky cauliflower slightly softens the crunchy raw cucumbers and tomatoes. The addition of parsley mimics the flavor of tabbouleh, but the entire thing is much lighter without the grains and ideal for summer.

Don't skimp on the tahini sauce! It cools down the spice of the lamb. Another option would be to make a simple yogurt sauce, or even just spoon some plain labneh over the entire dish.

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Spiced Lamb with Cauliflower Tabbouleh

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Serves 2

For the lamb + tabbouleh

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1 head cauliflower, cored and chopped finely (it should be in rice-sized crumbles)
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 2 tablespoons baharat or hawaij spice blend (if you can't find either, use a mix of equal parts cardamom, turmeric, coriander, and cumin)
  • 4 small Persian cucumbers, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, optional for garnishing
  • flaky sea salt, for garnishing

For the sauce

  • 1/2 cup warm water (plus more if needed)
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • salt, to taste
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Tags: lamb, middle eastern