If you’re anything like me then you’re salivating just reading that title. It’s the ultimate comfort combination surely? Roasted seasonal vegetables, a hot and creamy risotto and juicy lamb kebabs – that’s a winter feast right there. What’s even better is that it’s dead easy to make, as I will show you now.
First up though, in case you’re thinking ‘hmmm… lamb, not sure really, it’s a bit pricey isn’t it?’ then FEAR NOT. I was in exactly that boat before I made this recipe. I hardly ever bought lamb because I thought it was too expensive and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. As much as I love the flavour of lamb, (soooo good), I thought I needed super meat cooking skills (which I do not have) to cook lamb well.
Turns out I was wrong. Lamb koftas are super easy to make, and so versatile too as you can add lots of different seasonings, herbs and spices depending on what flavours you like. Fun fact for you: lamb is a lot more sustainable than most other animal agriculture farming. It’s also one of the healthiest meats you can eat – it’s rich in niacin and vitamin B12 and a great source of things like protein, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.
Lamb doesn’t have to be expensive either – the 500g of lean lamb mince that I used in this recipe was just four pounds, and that made enough lamb koftas for four people. One pound a head isn’t bad is it? Most of the rest of the ingredients are either things you have in your cupboards already, or fresh, seasonal vegetables that can be picked up cheaply from a local greengrocer – this feast for four people definitely comes in at under a tenner.
Basically you’ve got no excuse not to buy some lamb RIGHT NOW and whip up some lamb koftas for tea.
When you think of lamb koftas as part of a sharing meal, you might think first of things like couscous, or maybe a Greek salad? Because we are coming up to Christmas though, and I’m very much feeling the ‘hot soup at tea time because it’s dark outside already’ vibe, I thought I’d switch out the cold salads for something a bit heartier, and seasonal too.
As soon as I thought seasonal I thought SPROUTS. I absolutely love sprouts but I always just boil them and was keen to try something new. I absolutely love roast cauliflower, so chucking those in together was a no-brainer. Switching out a couscous salad for risotto made sense – it’s basically couscous’s autumnal older brother – and adding in the butternut squash adds a lovely sticky, sweetness that balances the creaminess of the risotto.
This meal would be ideal for feeding a family or group of friends on a cold winter evening – I’ve done generous quantities for four but it’s very easily scalable. Stick it all out on the table in big bowls, open a bottle of wine, and get stuck in. You could even share the jobs out – one person making the lamb koftas, another on risotto – a colLAMBoration if you will.
(I’ll get my coat.)
How to make the lamb koftas
I looked at a lot of different recipes for lamb koftas and was struck by the vast number of ingredients that they all had – more than a doxen in some cases. Now I’m all for flavour, but I know personally that if a recipe asks for things like fresh coriander AND fresh mint then I’m immediately put off – not only does it make things expensive but it normally means you have the majority of a bag of fresh herbs wilting at the bottom of the fridge a week later.
With my lamb kofta recipe I wanted to keep it simple. The flavour of lamb is so delicious in itself, you really don’t need 14 different herbs and spices. To make my lamb kofta recipe all you need is:
- 500g lean lamb mince
- two cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp each of ground coriander, ground cumin and dried mint
- salt and pepper
See? That doesn’t look daunting does it? You probably have most of that already.
If time is an issue then you should be able to prepare the lamb koftas while the risotto cooks, as long as you keep an eye on the rice, but they actually don’t take long at all and so you’re probably better taking the pressure off and getting them ready first.
To prepare the lamb koftas simply mix all the ingredients together well and then shape them into sausages on kebab skewers. This amount of mixture will easily make eight lamb koftas, which is plenty for four people. Cover and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them.
How to make the risotto and roast vegetables
For the risotto:
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes
- Olive oil
- Sprig of sage
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 300g arborio rice
- Salt and pepper
- 1 litre of veg stock
- 150 ml of white wine
For the roasted vegetables:
- 20-30 sprouts
- One cauliflower
- Olive oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- Salt and pepper
First things first, get the trimmed sprouts on to parboil for about five minutes. This gives them a much nicer texture once they’re been roasted. Break up the cauliflower into florets and, in a baking dish, toss it with the sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper and one teaspoon each of ground cumin and ground coriander. Pop it in an oven at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes, shaking the tray a couple of times during cooking to make sure you don’t get any burnt cauliflower edges – you want them golden but not charred.
A bit like this:
(The sprouts are so good, I could have eaten DOZENS.)
To get the risotto underway, shake the butternut squash cubes in a pan with a good glug of olive oil and some salt and pepper, and add this to the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until soft and turning brown on the edges. (I did this on the top shelf, vegetables on the bottom.) About halfway through the cooking, add in a sprig of roughly chopped sage.
Roasting the butternut squash separately and then stirring it in at the end gives the squash a lovely caramalised flavour and a more interesting texture than just cooking it in the risotto.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, fry your onion and garlic in some oil until softened, then add the rice and seasoning. Give everything a good stir to get the flavours mingling, and then add a little of your liquid – NB I used some wine in mine mainly as an excuse to open a bottle, so if you want to leave this out you can – just have a little extra stock handy.
Gradually cook the rice, adding a little liquid at a time and letting it absorb. This should take around 20 minutes, but if you’re not sure then just test the rice and see if you like the texture. You may need a little more or a little less liquid than specified. Season further to taste.
While the vegetables are roasting and your risotto is simmering away, you’ll need to cook your lamb koftas. These can either be done under a hot grill or if, like me, you can’t use your grill at the same time as the oven, they can also be fried – simply heat up a frying pan or griddle pan, brush the lamb koftas with a little oil, and cook for just a few minutes on each side until nicely brown all the way around. They can rest for 5-10 minutes then while you get everything else onto the table.
Once your risotto is cooked, stir in the roast butternut squash cubes and garnish with a sprig of sage if you’re feeling fancy. Add this to the table with the lamb koftas and the roasted cauliflower and sprouts, and serve with a bowl of Greek yogurt.
From now until March next year I’m going to be partnering with a campaign called ‘Lamb. Try it, love it‘ to showcase more lamb recipes and highlight just how versatile, healthy and affordable lamb actually is. If you have any favourite lamb recipes then, any lamb based questions, or any suggestions for things you’d like to see me cook then please leave a comment and let me know!
In the meantime, if this post has got you hankering after that juicy lamb flavour, you can find loads more lamb recipes on the ‘Lamb. Try it, love it’ website.