Greek salads somehow taste better when you’re in Greece – I suppose it’s the Mediterranean produce and that magic touch they have with it. I was lucky enough to spend a few days cruising the Greek Islands earlier this year and after returning home couldn't wait to recreate some of the food in my own kitchen.

As for the lamb, this is one of my favourite ways to serve it. I’ll confess I’m cheating a bit in that the spice rub is more Moroccan inspired but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of fusion.

This is a meal that can be put together quickly but is so delicious and has such an array of flavours and textures. Even during the colder months, the spicy lamb transforms a Greek salad into something more interesting and satisfying.

A couple of quick notes. For the tomatoes I like to use the lovely acid-free Roma tomatoes but whatever is your preference. Now the olives – I always buy whole olives and remove the stones myself. I know it seems like a bit of a faff, especially when you can buy them already stoned but they taste so much better if you do it yourself. Try it and you’ll see.

 

Classic Greek Salad with Spiced Lamb Loins

Serves 4

 

3-4 lamb loins

Olive oil

For the spice rub:

4 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon freshly ground sea salt (less if using regular salt)

 

For the Greek salad:

Mixed salad leaves or leaves of your choice

1 x red onion, sliced thinly into half moons

1 x cucumber, halved and sliced (peeled or unpeeled as you choose)

4 x good-sized tomatoes, sliced

1 x green pepper, seeds removed and sliced

20 x Kalamata olives (I like to stone and halve them)

Handful of fresh mint leaves, sliced thinly

200g feta cheese

Dried oregano

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground sea salt

 

First mix together the spices for the spice rub in a small bowl. Rub this all over your lamb loins, drizzle with a little olive oil either side and then leave to sit while you heat your frying pan. This also gives the meat a chance to lose a bit of its fridge chill before hitting the hot pan.

Make a start on the salad. I know it’s usual to mix everything together in a bowl and then transfer to the plate but I like to make it on the plates and layer everything as I go.

Start with the salad leaves – this isn’t traditional but I do like to have a few crunchy leaves for the salad to rest on. Next layer the red onion, cucumber, tomatoes and green pepper one after the other on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle over the olives and the sliced mint leaves.

Your pan should be hot enough now so carefully place in the lamb loins – immediately you’ll hear them start to sizzle. I’ve found that around four minutes per side reliably gives me a lovely medium finish so that it’s still beautifully pink and tender on the inside. I also give the sides a quick sizzle so that it’s browned all over.

It’s important to watch the time here. The last thing you want to do is overcook the lamb. As soon as it’s done to your liking, transfer the lamb to a plate, cover in tin foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes while you finish the salad.

Crumble the feta over the salad and then a sprinkling of dried oregano.

Whisk together or shake in a jar the extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar. Add salt to taste and drizzle over each salad.

Once the lamb has had its resting time cut into slices and lay on top of the salad.

By this stage all you’ll want to do is get it to the table and start eating.

Published by Tracey O'Brien