slow-roasted lamb with sassoun and roasted pumpkin salad

i can’t quite believe april is almost here. however, it does make (very clichéd) sense of the very strong cravings that i’ve been having for lamb.

i have a leg of lamb in the freezer which will make an appearance over easter but in the meantime i’ve returned to an old favourite – slow cooked neck of lamb. neck is a good value cut and if it is cooked long and slow it becomes meltingly tender.

i put the lamb, sliced onions and garlic into a foil parcel with rosemary, preserved lemon and a glug of white wine and then cooked it as noted here. this was served with roasted pumpkin and feta (pumpkin is tossed with olive oil, chilli flakes, salt & pepper before cooking, crumbled feta added for the final 10 mins of cooking) and sassoun.

i read about sassoun in a recent copy of cuisine and was instantly reminded of agresto, a zingy walnut-based paste  which i love. sassoun uses almonds in place of walnuts, and mixes them with anchovies, herbs, fennel and olive oil. it works wonderfully with lamb and i will definitely make this again but with one change from the original recipe – i’ll add some lemon zest, and possibly a bit of lemon juice, to lift the flavours so they are even more spring-like.

sassoun* (serves 6-8)

75g roasted almonds (i used flaked almonds which i toasted in a dry pan)

8 anchovy fillets

½ a teaspoon toasted fennel seeds (pestled to a rough powder)

3-4 handfuls mint leaves

1 handful flat leaf parsley leaves

zest of a lemon

3 tablespoons water

125ml olive oil

put everything except the oil into a food processor. blitz to make a coarse paste. add the soil gradually, processing until it is incorporated. season to taste.

* based on a recipe by peta mathias, via cuisine magazine