Cumin-Lemon Lamb Grill in Lettuce Rolls with Grilled Vegetables

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A lovely thing about this dish is that it can be a meal for vegetarians or carnivores alike, and nothing says summer like eating with our fingers. Eating outside means we have permission to pick up all sorts of things — from chicken wings and hot dogs to these lamb–and vegetable–filled rollups. This is the way it works: Set out a pile of lettuce leaves, a pile of fresh herbs, some ground chile, a bowl of store-bought chickpea dip (hummus), and some instant chive-yogurt sauce. Heap the grilled vegetables on one platter, the cooked lamb on another.

To eat, spread a lettuce leaf with chive-yogurt sauce, add a few pieces of lamb, top them with fresh mint and maybe some chile. Roll up and taste the mix of hot, cool, fresh, and tangy all in each bite. Possible combinations go on.

This dish is wonderful paired with Golden Rice Salad.

Cook to Cook: Chicken thighs and pork shoulder can be substituted for the lamb. And don’t marinate the vegetables as some will throw off water and become soggy before they ever touch the grill.

Ingredients

Spice Paste/Marinade:

  • 3 to 4 large garlic cloves
  • Pulp of 1 large lemon (cut away all zest and white pith), seeded 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon each coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Meat:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds lamb steaks cut from the leg (or other tender cut), trimmed of fat and cut into strips about 1/2-inch thick by 2 to 3 inches long

Vegetables:

  • 4 medium zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch by 3-inch unpeeled strips
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced into 3/4-inch by 3-inch strips
  • 2 large yellow peppers, cut into 3/4-inch by 3-inch strips

Instant Chive-Yogurt Sauce:

  • 2 cups whole-milk yogurt
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced chives, or whole scallions

Garnishes:

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 large or 2 small heads Bibb lettuce, whole leaves washed and dried
  • 10 to 12 sprigs fresh mint
  • 10 to 12 sprigs fresh coriander
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup Aleppo chile, or other medium-hot pure chile powder
  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought Middle Eastern chickpea dip (hummus)

Instructions

1. In the bowl of a small food processor, purée together all the spice paste ingredients. Place the lamb in a medium bowl and toss with half of the paste. Place the vegetables in a large bowl and toss them with the remaining paste.

2. Make the Instant Chive-Yogurt Sauce by blending the yogurt and chives together. Set out the sauce with all the garnishes except the juice from the half lemon. 

3. Prepare a charcoal grill for one-zone direct grilling, or preheat a gas grill to high. 

4. When the fire is very hot, begin by grilling the vegetables first. Spread them on the grill and cook about 2 to 5 minutes per side, or until they are browning but still have a little crispness to them. Take care not to burn them. With tongs, lift them to a serving platter. 

5. Grill the lamb strips 1 to 2 minutes on one side, turn with tongs, then grill 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. You want the interior to be very pink. Cut into a piece to check. Remove the meat to a serving platter. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the meat. Set the vegetables and lamb out and invite everyone to create their own lettuce rolls.

From A Summertime Grilling Guide by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. Copyright © 2012 by American Public Media.

Prep time: 
30 minutes; 30 minutes to 12 hours marinating time
Cook time: 
20 minutes grill time
Total time: 
1 hour and 20 minutes to 13 hours and 20 minutes
Yield: 
Serves 4

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