Sumac Lamb is always a winning combination and can be paired with any number of ingredients, Hummus being a typical match.  I wanted to take this simple Sumac Lamb to new heights so paired it instead with a Middle Eastern favourite, Baba Ganoush.  Smoky eggplant infused with garlic, tahini, lemon and parsley and whipped so it is soft and pillowy.  A simple salad of cumin spiced, roasted cauliflower, rocket and a fresh, sharp onion pickle gave this dish the lift I was hoping for……..and then some.

This is actually a very simple meal if you follow the step by step process below.  I think this would be divine for a dinner party as most of the elements can be prepared ahead.  Just hold off adding the onions to the salad if you do make ahead and cook the lamb at the last minute.

Prep time:  20  Minutes

Cooking time:  1 Hour

$$  Medium Budget

Serves 4

For the Sumac Lamb:

600-800gm of lamb back strap

2 tbs of olive oil

1 tbs of ground sumac

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Sea salt & Pepper

For the Baba Ganoush:

2 Eggplants, pierced with a sharp knife, randomly

1 small garlic bulb

2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs of Tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 a cup of parsley leaves

Sea salt & Pepper

For the Cauliflower Salad:

1 small head of cauliflower, broken up into florets

1 tbs of ground cumin

1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced top to bottom

1 tbs of sumac

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 tbs of sherry or red wine vinegar

1/2 a Pomegranate, juice and seeds separated from white pith

1/2 a cup of toasted walnuts

A few handfuls of baby rocket

Sea salt & Pepper

Continental parsley leaves and dill sprigs to serve

To prepare the Sumac Lamb dish, I like to start with the eggplants, as they take the longest to cook.

Heat a griddle pan or BBQ until nice and hot and cook the eggplants, whole on all sides, until blackened and charred.  They will look collapsed when the flesh is nice and tender.  Because of their odd shape, sometimes the ends won’t reach the heat so I finish them off in a 180°C oven.  This usually takes anywhere from 40 minutes to 1 hour for the whole process, depending on the size of the eggplants.  Once they are nice and tender, allow them to cool in a bowl.  Once cooled slightly, peel the skin away (it should come off easily if they are cooked properly) and drain away any liquid that has leeched out and set aside.

While the eggplants are cooking, you can get on with other prep.  To prepare the Sumac Lamb, place olive oil, sumac, lemon juice and sea salt and pepper in a shallow tray and mix to combine.  Pat dry your lamb back straps with paper towel and then place them in the marinade, tossing to coat.  Set aside until you are ready to cook.

Place the sliced onion in a bowl with the 1/4 cup of the olive oil, sumac, lemon juice, pomegranate seeds and juice and sherry or red wine vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.  This will pickle the onion and make it go a gorgeous bright pink colour.

Place the garlic bulb on a piece of tin foil.  Drizzle with a small amount of oil and wrap loosely in the foil, sealing it so that it steams the garlic and then bake in the oven, along side the cauliflower for the same amount of time.  I like to do this in quite a few dips as raw garlic can be very over powering.  If you’d like to skip this step, just use one clove of raw garlic in the Baba Ganoush.

Place the cauliflower florets in a lined baking tray and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with cumin, sea salt and pepper.  Bake in a 180°C oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until tender.  Remove and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes before tossing with the baby rocket and 2/3rds of the onion mixture, just before serving.

To complete the Baba Ganoush, place the cooked and peeled eggplant, parsley leaves, roasted garlic (it should just squeeze out of the skins), tahini paste, lemon juice and olive oil in a food processor.  Season with salt and pepper and blitz until combined.  I personally like it a little chunky but you can blend it until smooth of you prefer.

To cook the Sumac Lamb, heat a griddle pan or BBQ until nice and hot.  Cook the lamb on both sides for approximately 4 minutes either side for medium rare.  Obviously cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your lamb back straps but I tend to cook it just like I would a steak.  Allow the back straps to rest for a few minutes before slicing.

To plate this Middle Eastern, Sumac Lamb delight, place a generous dollop of Baba Ganoush on each plate and use the back of your spoon to spread it out slightly.  Fan lamb slices over the Baba Ganoush and place a generous helping of the cauliflower salad next to the lamb.  Scatter over toasted walnut pieces and the remaining pickled onions, drizzling over any remaining juice.  Scatter over parsley leaves and dill sprigs and finish with a drizzle of the remaining extra virgin olive oil.

Are you a fan of Middle Eastern food?  You may like to try this recipe…..

Sumac Lamb, Baba Ganoush & Cauliflower Salad