10 March 2014

Pumpkin and White Beans with Sizzled Lamb, Yogurt, Mint

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Winter is pretty much over here in North Africa, in fact it barely happened at all this year, but I know that for readers in America the snow and ice pummels on in what everyone keeps telling me is "the longest winter EVER." So, while fava beans and daffodils are all a-spring here, you will forgive me a few more wintery dishes made in a warm dark depths of our late night kitchen.

Most of the things that I rely on for quick weeknight dinners follow one of a few basic formulas, and this is no exception. If you notice that this recipe bears striking similarity to say, this pumpkin/chickpea salad, or this roast cauliflower salad, you would be correct. One of my most relied on formulas is the equation of roast/sautéed vegetable + legume + herbs + yogurt/tahini sauce + topping (nuts, meat, etc). If you play this equation out, you get:

- sautéed eggplant and chickpea salad with tahini and pine nuts
- roast pumpkin and chickpea salad with yogurt/tahini sauce and almonds
- caramelized fennel and onion with white beans, shredded chicken, tarragon yogurt dressing
- roast cauliflower and lentil salad with fennel fronds and hazelnuts
- sautéed zucchini with black beans, cilantro, spicy labne, and peanuts

See how easy that is? And I just made up half of those dishes. (Now I want to try that lentil-hazelnut salad!) In this case, I had leftover white beans and leftover braised lamb in the fridge. Combined with roast pumpkin and a lively harissa-yogurt sauce, this is an easy quick dinner.

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Pumpkin and White Beans with Sizzled Lamb, Yogurt, Mint
Never underestimate how a squeeze of fresh lemon can brighten a dish like this. This is best served while still fresh from the fryer, so-to-speak.

3 cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice
2 cups cooked white beans
1 cup shredded leftover lamb
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon harissa, or other chile paste
1 tablespoon tahini
1 lemon, halved
1 sprig mint, leaves chopped
3-4 tablespoons bacon fat, duck fat, or oil

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Line a plate with a double-layer of paper towels.
2. Toss the pumpkin with olive oil to coat, and the cinnamon, allspice, and 2 pinches salt. Scatter the pumpkin on the baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife and brown on the edges. When done, remove from the oven and scatter the roast pumpkin on a serving dish.
3. Meanwhile, make the yogurt dressing by combining the yogurt, harissa, and tahini, with salt and the juice of half a lemon. Stir together and taste for seasoning.
4. Heat the fat in a heavy pan, it should be hot. Add the white beans and fry until the edges are sizzled and browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel to drain.
5. Add the shredded lamb to the fat and cook the lamb until nicely crisped and sizzled. Remove the lamb to the paper towel to drain. Sprinkle beans and lamb liberally with salt.
6. Add the beans and lamb to the platter with the pumpkin. Squeeze the remaining lemon half over top. Pour the yogurt sauce over top and sprinkle the mint leaves over. Serve immediately.

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