© David Loftus
roast leg of lamb with eggplant and onions
Many of us are in love with good old roast lamb with all the trimmings – mint sauce, roast potatoes, you know the story! But life is too short to be eating the same thing all the time, so I wanted to show you a fantastic, classic Italian way of cooking lamb with eggplants. The lamb bit is dead simple; what I want you to concentrate on is the seasoning of the eggplants and you’ll be laughing.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Rub your leg of lamb all over with olive oil and salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. While it’s cooking, cut the eggplants in half and then into 2 inch erratic wedges. Toss them with the onion wedges in a little olive oil with a sprinkling of salt and pepper and the dried oregano.
When the lamb has come out of the oven, pour away most of the fat and sprinkle the chopped rosemary on to the lamb. Scatter the eggplant and onion pieces around the lamb in the tray and put it back in the oven for an hour.
Meanwhile, make your tomato sauce. In a saucepan, fry the garlic and chopped parsley stalks in a splash of olive oil for a minute, then add the tomatoes, a pinch of salt and pepper, a good swig of vinegar, the dried chilli and the anchovy fillets. Simmer for 30 minutes. Make a point of checking the veg and lamb after 20 minutes. Turn the lamb over and stir the veggies, making sure they don’t go dry – add a splash of water if you need to. Look after them and they’ll be fantastic.
When the lamb is cooked, remove the pan from the oven, put the lamb on to a platter with a carving knife and fork and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Leave to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour away any excess fat and then pour your tomato sauce over the roasted eggplants and onions. Place the baking pan on a medium heat, and using a wooden spoon, scrape loose all the sticky bits at the bottom but try not to break up the veg too much. You want it to be a chunky sauce, not a pulp. Add most of your parsley leaves and simmer for a couple of minutes on a gentle heat.
Now taste the sauce – it should be slightly sweet and slightly sour, so it may need another little swig of vinegar. Take a little bit of time and you’ll get it just perfect. When you’re really happy with the eggplants and you have the same sauce consistency as in the picture opposite, pour the sauce either on to a separate platter or on to the same one as the lamb. Chop your remaining parsley leaves, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle over the parsley. Serve the lamb at the table as is, with delicious warm bread and a little salad.
• 1 x 41⁄2 lb leg of lamb, preferably free-range or organic
• olive oil
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3 round purple eggplants or 4 normal ones
• 2 red onions, peeled and each cut into about
• 1 tablespoon dried oregano
• a bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
for the tomato sauce
• 2–3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• a large bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked, stalks chopped
• olive oil 2 x14oz
• cans good-quality plum tomatoes sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• good-quality herb or red wine vinegar
• 1 dried red chilli, crumbled
• 3 good-quality anchovy fillets in oil, drained
• good-quality extra virgin olive oil