Lamb

29 Side Dishes That Would Be A++ With Lamb

December 23, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

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 29 ideas for pairings, spanning all kinds of ingredient categories. Below are some of the very best side dishes for lamb.


But First, Some Lamb Recipes


Asparagus

1. Shaved Asparagus & Arugula Salad

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.

2. Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Brown Butter, Lemon & Eggs Mimosa

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.

3. Absurdly Addictive Asparagus

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.

4. Shaved Asparagus & Mint Salad

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.


Bitter Vegetables

5. Charred Radicchio With Arugula, Cherries & Parmesan

Sorta counterintuitively, charring radicchio undermines its bitterness. Cherries and balsamic add sweetness, while arugula and black pepper bring spice.

6. Broccoli Rabe in Lemon Cream

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.

7. Marinated White Bean & Radicchio Salad

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.

8. Broccoli Rabe Goma-ae

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.

9. Berardino’s Crispy Pancotto

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.


Carrots

10. Pomegranate Roasted Carrots

Think of pomegranate molasses as the easiest glaze your carrots will ever meet. Not to mention, the fruitiest and tangiest, to boot.

11. Sweet Smoky Roasted Carrots

Sweet from honey (maple syrup would also be lovely), smoky from smoked paprika. Dorie Greenspan dreamed up this recipe for her book Everyday Dorie.

12. Buttery Maple Cumin Carrots

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.

13. Carrots Cooked Forever

Carrots, but with the tenderness and silkiness of mashed potatoes. You might be tempted to skimp on the olive oil. Don’t.


Peas of All Kinds

14. Peas in Mint Cream

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.

15. Pea Salad With Parmesan & Mint

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).

16. Creamy Watercress, Pea & Mint Soup

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.

17. Radish, Snap Pea & Burrata Salad With Chives & Lemon

Creamy burrata can’t get enough of perky-crunchy vegetables, like snap peas and radishes. Mozzarella works in a pinch.


Potatoes

18. Garlicky Roasted Potato Salad

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.

19. Squashed Potatoes

Squashed is usually an unfortunate fate, but in this case, it’s a blessing. The potatoes become exceptionally crispy with irregular, craggy edges.

20. Medley of Roasted Potatoes With Homemade Za’atar & Aleppo Pepper

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).

21. Potatoes a la Lyonnaise

“What can you say about a simple potato dish that goes with everything?” Mimi Thorisson writes. “Everything” obviously includes lamb, lamb, and more lamb.


Radishes

22. Radish Salad With Anchovy Sauce

Anchovies underscore lamb’s savoriness. In this salad—with raw radishes, capers, and parsley—all you need is one tiny fish.

23. Pan-Braised Radishes & Greens

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.

24. Roasted Radishes With Almond Salsa Verde

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).

25. Radish & Pecan Grain Salad

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.


Salads (With Feta!)

26. Herb Salad With Chickpeas & Feta

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.

27. Wilted Escarole With Feta, Walnuts & Honey

Escarole is bitterish, yes. That’s where the fatty walnuts and sticky-sweet honey come in. Don’t hold back on the latter.

28. Lemony Green Bean Salad With Feta, Red Onion & Marjoram

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).

29. Shaved Broccoli Stalk Salad With Soft Feta & Golden Raisins

Broccoli stalks, now full of purpose. This would be dreamy alongside (or piled on top of!) juicy-rare lamb chops.

What’s your favorite side dish to serve with lamb? Share ideas in the comments!
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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.

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