When it comes to meat, America is firmly committed to beef and chicken. (With some pork thrown in, mostly in the form of ham and bacon.) But in many other countries, the meat of choice comes from smaller herd animals like lamb and goat. “Mutton” is sheep meat — that is, older lambs. Not only are these smaller animals easier to raise on family plots of land, they neatly dovetail with many religious dietary edicts, like Hindus not eating beef and Muslims not eating pork. Not many religions put lamb or goat on the “no-go” list of ingredients.
But all that aside, my favorite meat is lamb because I think it has the most flavor. (Part of that is due to the fact that lambs can’t be stuffed with corn, soy, and bakery waste the way conventionally grown older animals are — such an unnatural diet would kill the lambs before they reached slaughter weight. In other words, lambs are more likely to be grass-fed, and grass-fed = better flavor.) The fact that lamb is often the centerpiece of Middle Eastern, North African, and Indian dishes is a bonus since I’m a big fan of the spice families common to those cuisines.
For this dish, I went with an Indian approach and included chickpeas, fenugreek, and mustard seeds with my lamb. You could skip the various spices I’ve used in favor of a pre-blended curry powder, too, but the blend of spices I’ve included in this saute has a milder overall flavor than many curry powders, so if you’re not normally a fan of Indian spices, you may prefer the collection I’ve used.
Lamb & Chickpea Saute Serves 4 diners, especially when you serve the lamb atop roasted squash or cooked whole grains. Feel free to double or triple as needed.
About 6 sun-dried tomatoes
1 medium onion
Flesh of 1 entire roasted red pepper, either home-roasted or store-bought
5 cloves garlic
15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained (go with Eden if you want BPA-free chickpeas)
1 to 2 tsp. of coriander, depending on how much cumin you use (the coriander and cumin should be equal amounts)
1 to 2 tsp. of cumin, depending on how much you like cumin (I like a lot)
1 tsp. of fenugreek (optional, but adds a warm, celery-salt-like flavor)
1 tsp. mustard seeds
Dash of Aleppo pepper OR crushed red pepper flakes
Dash of sea salt
1/2 lb. ground lamb, preferably grass-fed
Try serving atop: roasted squash, cooked brown rice, whole-grain pasta, or whole-grain bread of your choice
Place tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak while you chop the onion, pepper, and garlic, keeping each of them separate.
Add a pat of ghee or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium for a minute or two to melt the ghee. Add chopped onions and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until onions are softened and translucent. Stir in garlic and chopped pepper and let cook for another 3 minutes or until garlic is softened and fragrant.
Stir in chickpeas and spices and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for at least 5 minutes. During that time, drain the tomatoes and coarsely chop them. Add to the skillet. Stir in the lamb and cook, stirring often to break up the lamb, for 5 minutes or until lamb is cooked through.
Serve with roasted squash, cooked brown rice, cooked whole-grain pasta, or a whole-grain bread of your choice…or simply serve as is. (I made savory chickpea-and-buckwheat crepes to go with this dish the first time I served it, and I enjoyed the leftovers with roasted buttercup squash .)
Leftover lamb can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. The best way to reheat leftovers is to saute them with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes.