Greek Orthodox Easter Meal
- 2 racks of lamb, 1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds (7 to 8 chops)
- 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 6 small mint sprigs, for garnish
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves
- 2 cups fresh white beans, or 2 (15-ounce) cans of white beans, drained and rinsed
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
- Cracked pepper
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves pulled off fresh 5 basil leaves
- 12 small red potatoes
- 1/3 cup clarified butter
- 1-tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried
- pull about 1 teaspoon of the leaves off to sprinkle over the potatoes while they cook, and save the rest for garnish6 sprigs fresh thyme;
- 1-teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-teaspoon cracked pepper
- 1-medium onion, sliced thin
- 2-tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds eggplant (2 to 3 medium eggplant)
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic (to taste), chopped
- 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 Kalamata olives, pitted
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup brine-packed Greek feta, crumbled small (optional)
DIRECTIONS FOR LAMB
1) Make the syrup ahead of time, or even the day before. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the vinegar and sugar to a simmer, cooking until the mixture has the consistency of syrup, 8 to 10 minutes. Continue to cook, reducing by half. Remove the pan from the heat, and let cool for 10 minutes. Add the mint and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and cool for about 1 hour. Store in an airtight container in the pantry, and serve at room temperature.
2) Preheat the oven to 450°F.
3) Place the ribs bone side down in a roasting pan. Place 2 tablespoons of the Dijon mustard on each rack of lamb, and rub all over the top with the back of a spoon. Over each rack, sprinkle ½ teaspoon of the garlic powder and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce. Divide the thyme over the two racks. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over each rack, and crack plenty of pepper over both.
4) Bake the lamb for 18 to 25 minutes.
5) Turn on the broiler. Place the lamb in the broiler 4 inches from the heat source, and broil for 2 to 3 minutes, until the top is golden and bubbly. Keep an eye out so it doesn’t burn. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board. Cover lightly with foil, and let rest for 5 to 6 minutes.
6) Slice the racks into chops by cutting between the bones. Place on a platter, or serve 2 to 3 chops per plate, with the mint syrup on the side. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
DIRECTIONS FOR WHITE BEAN PUREE
1) Soak the fresh beans overnight, or for a quick soak bring the beans to a boil, covering the beans by 4 inches. Turn off the heat and let sit for an hour. Drain and rinse under cool water. Pour the beans back into a stockpot.
2) Fill a large stockpot with cool water, covering the beans by 4 inches. Do not add salt to the water as this will make the beans tough. Bring to boil. Turn the heat down to a gentle boil, cover, and cook until the beans are tender, usually 90 minutes for soaked beans (2 hours of more for beans that haven’t been soaked). Taste test to see if the beans are tender. If they’re not yet tender, cook until they are, checking every 15 minutes. Be careful to not overcook, or the beans will fall apart. If the beans have soaked up so much water while cooking that they’re no longer covered by at least 4 inches of water, add more water.
3) Place the beans, ¾ teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon salt if using canned beans), pepper to taste, scallion, and lemon juice in a food processor. Start to slowly add the oil, and process until smooth. Adjust the seasoning adding more salt if necessary.
4) To serve the lamb, slice in between the ribs to separate the chops. Place 1/4 cup of the bean puree on the middle of a dinner plate and spread into a circle. Place three lamb chops thick side down in the puree to help them stand together.
DIRECTIONS FOR POTATOES
1) Rinse and cut the potatoes in half. Dry well with paper towels.
2) Heat a skillet until really hot. Add the clarified butter. When the butter starts to sizzle, add the potatoes, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Give the skillet a good shake. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.
3) After 10 minutes, or when the bottoms start to turn golden, flip the potatoes over using a metal spatula. Add the onion, and mix. Cover and cook until the potatoes are soft in the middle and have turned a beautiful golden color and the onions have caramelized, about 30 minutes.
4) Transfer to a serving dish, and add more salt if necessary. Sprinkle chopped parsley over the potatoes and garnish with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
DIRECTIONS FOR CLARIFIED BUTTER
1 stick (8 ounces) unsalted butter
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter; allow the butter to remain undisturbed while melting. When all the butter has melted, carefully remove the foam that forms on top. Pour the clear buttery liquid in a bowl. Be careful not to let the whey at the bottom get into the bowl. Discard the foam and whey. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
DIRECTIONS FOR MELITZANOSALATA EGGPLANT DIP
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or unbleached parchment paper.
2) Prick the eggplant with a fork in a few places all around to allow steam to escape while cooking. Put the eggplant on the lined sheet pan, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until very tender. Remove from oven, and place the hot eggplant on a large plate lined with paper towels to cool and drain.
3) When cool enough to handle, remove the stems and slice each eggplant in half. Peel the eggplant, and use a spoon to scrape any remaining pulp from the skins. Discard the skins, and scrape away as many seeds as possible from the pulp. Transfer the pulp to the bowl of a food processor or high-performance blender. Add the onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olives. Blend together until just combined. Then, with the motor running, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture, blending until it resembles cream of wheat or hummus. Eggplant tends to have a naturally creamy consistency, so you may not need to add all the olive oil. Alternatively, if you wish to have a looser consistency, you may add more oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach the desired consistency.
4) Transfer the eggplant mixture to a large bowl, and fold in the parsley. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to a full day, so that the flavors can come together. Just before serving, sprinkle the crumbled feta cheese, if using, on top as a garnish. Serve with oven-warmed or grilled pita bread or a selection of fresh vegetables for dipping. You can replace the feta cheese with vegan cheese, too!
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