Arguably one of the greatest lamb scenes in cinema (is this something people argue about?) comes by way of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the 2002 rom-com that had a $5 million budget but went on to gross over $240 million.
Protagonist, Toula, is introducing her boyfriend to her family when she has to break the news that he’s a vegetarian. Her aunt is horrified. “What do you mean he don’t eat no meat?” she screams. The room goes silent. But then, her aunt realizes a solution: “That’s okay, that’s okay,” she says, squeezing his cheeks. “I make lamb!”
But what will she make to go with the lamb? This is important. Lamb works just as well with minerally, bitter ingredients as mild, sweet ones—the tough part is knowing how to narrow down.
Luckily, I have 35 ideas for pairings, spanning all kinds of ingredient categories. Below are some of the very best side dishes for lamb.
Asparagus doesn’t always need to be cooked. In fact, with a rich protein like lamb, leaving it raw—shaved into ribbons like pappardelle—is a great match.
When smooshed through a fine-mesh sieve, hard-boiled eggs turn into fluffy snow. Here, that falls on brown buttered asparagus, but don’t hesitate to try this on any green vegetable.
One of our top-10 recipes of all time, this recipe lives up to its name thanks to powerhouse ingredients like pancetta, leeks, garlic, pine nuts (walnuts make a great sub), and citrus zest.
Instead of the old-school mint jelly, try serving lamb with fresh mint, in one way or another. Here, it’s an herby salad with Parmesan and hazelnuts.
Recipe developer EmilyC offers up a foolproof fattoush formula: crispy pita + vegetables + herbs + dressing. This version here with translucent-crisp radishes, quickly toasted asparagus, and heaps (heaps!) of fresh dill will bounce some spring into your lamb’s step.
Barely blanched asparagus gets dotted with oozy eggs, crispy crunchy 'chovy crumbs, and fruity Calabrian chile. I estimate a pound (yes, a pound!) of springtime goodness per person, but feel free to halve or quarter the serving size if serving as a side.
This lovely, fraîche salad from A Cozy Kitchen features crisp butter lettuce leaves, tender asparagus stems, and snappy peas tossed in a yogurt dressing and served with a ball of burrata. Dairy on dairy? Yes, please.
From Ruth Rogers of the beloved River Cafe London comes this recipe for creamy, herby pasta with asparagus. The asparagus are cut to the same thickness as the pasta, making for surprising bites (is it pasta or is it asparagus?) we just can’t pull our forks away from.
Sorta counterintuitively, charring radicchio undermines its bitterness. Cherries and balsamic add sweetness, while arugula and black pepper bring spice.
This dish made our co-founder Amanda Hesser look at broccoli rabe in a brand new way. And yes, you should give the lemon-cream treatment to other bitter things, like radicchio or escarole.
A heavy-on-the-Pecorino salad for any season. If you can’t find oversize gigante or corona beans (psst: you can order online from Rancho Gordo), opt for cannellini.
A simple broccoli rabe salad that’s all about the sesame seeds. Soy sauce adds salty-savoriness and a pinch of sugar keeps everything even-keeled.
Add this to your list of “Ways to Use Up Stale Bread.” With garlic, chiles, and lots of olive oil, it’s reminiscent of a greens-stuffed, crispy-bottomed bread pudding.
Fall, shmall. Carrots are technically a spring vegetable, too! A head of treviso, fluffy herbs, and beady lentils get tossed in a cumin- and fennel-spiced vinaigrette.
This Genius recipe, comes to us from beloved N.Y.C. institution, Union Square Café. Raw and roasted brussels are hashed and tossed in a bright, nutty, fruity dressing. Topped with a fried egg, this would also make for a wonderful light main.
Think of pomegranate molasses as the easiest glaze your carrots will ever meet. Not to mention, the fruitiest and tangiest, to boot.
Sweet from honey (maple syrup would also be lovely), smoky from smoked paprika. Dorie Greenspan dreamed up this recipe for her book Everyday Dorie.
Cumin seeds and coriander seeds team up with maple syrup–smooched carrots. We wouldn’t complain if you sprinkled some fresh herbs on top, like cilantro, dill, and/or mint.
Carrots, but with the tenderness and silkiness of mashed potatoes. You might be tempted to skimp on the olive oil. Don’t.
The title just told you most of the ingredients in this fuss-free recipe. Feel free to swap in frozen peas; just adjust the cook time accordingly.
Peas can be salad, too. Here, they’re dressed up with fresh mint, lemon juice, and shaved Parmesan (a vegetable peeler is up for the task).
As bright and happy as soup gets. If you can’t find watercress, feel free to swap in spinach (yes, frozen works!). This plus roast lamb plus bread would be a dream.
Creamy burrata can’t get enough of perky-crunchy vegetables, like snap peas and radishes. Mozzarella works in a pinch.
Lamb loves garlic almost as much as I do. This roasted-not-boiled potato salad uses four cloves, which you could certainly increase if you dare.
Squashed is usually an unfortunate fate, but in this case, it’s a blessing. The potatoes become exceptionally crispy with irregular, craggy edges.
Za’atar is a spice blend, fragrant with thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. Here, it’s a superpower for roasted potatoes (assorted colors are pretty but not necessary).
“What can you say about a simple potato dish that goes with everything?” Mimi Thorisson writes. “Everything” obviously includes lamb, lamb, and more lamb.
Anchovies underscore lamb’s savoriness. In this salad—with raw radishes, capers, and parsley—all you need is one tiny fish.
The next time you pick up a bunch of radishes with their greens still attached, don’t throw those greens out. Instead, whip up this cheerful braise with butter and tarragon.
Roasting renders radishes caramelized and fork-tender. This oregano-y almond salsa verde is the perfect teammate (awesome with just about any roasted vegetable, too).
The key to this chewy-crunchy salad is mixed grains—say farro and quinoa or rice and wheat berries. This component adds loads of texture and nuttiness.
The more types of herbs, the better. Make sure you buy feta in a block (preferably in brine), then crumble it yourself; its flavor and consistency are way more delicious.
Escarole is bitterish, yes. That’s where the fatty walnuts and sticky-sweet honey come in. Don’t hold back on the latter.
A salad that’s full of lamb’s favorite words: lemon, feta, onion, marjoram (or, if you can’t find it, oregano—another favorite word).
Broccoli stalks, now full of purpose. This would be dreamy alongside (or piled on top of!) juicy-rare lamb chops.