Hello all and happy new year! Christmas and its many distractions have rather got in the way of cooking and writing recently. The long and drawn out hangovers of the festive season, along with the good intentions of getting up from the sofa, mean that it’s taken a good few weeks to find my way back to the kitchen. It feels at this time of year that all I’m going in there for is a cup of tea and another sit down and I honestly can’t remember the last proper meal that I cooked, save for bowls of morning porridge. It’s been a relief to know I still possess skills, and have at last found time to enjoy and draw on the many cookbooks given to me in December. One of the things I’ve most wanted to cook since my Middle Eastern trip, and which rather helpfully crops up in Moro the cookbook, is ground lamb with hummus.
Typical of the Salad Club house style, this dish doesn’t rely on having large or unwieldy cuts of meat that need constant attention or complex braising, sealing or roasting times. It’s always our preference to add meat in small quantities to a mezze or tapas-like dish that can be shared and scooped with breads and forks, and which can be topped up from the pan when plates are bare. Not only is this is a straightforward, informal way of eating, but cheaper too as you simply don’t need to rely on large portions – meat here is an embellishment rather than the focal point.
Since inventing a winning butter bean and rosemary hummus a while back, we haven’t touched any shop bought tubs or even the chickpea variety, come to that. It’s so smooth, creamy and cheap–there’s no going back.
Once the hummus is made, cut a pomegranate in half from tip to tail. Placing the cut side down in your palm and with your fingers splayed, use the back of a wooden spoon to beat the back of the fruit so that its seeds fall through your fingers and into a bowl. Pick through and discard any bits of fruit skin. Set aside. Cut a few strands of parsley leaves roughly and set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan on low to medium heat. Finely dice 4 golf ball-sized shallots and add to the pan, stirring occasionally until sticky and golden. Add 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon, a pinch of ground cumin and a pinch of ground allspice, stir well and turn the heat to medium-high. Add 170g of minced lamb and use the back of a fork to break it up as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cook through, until the mince is well separated and well coloured.
Spread a 3 or 4 spoonfuls of hummus onto a flat platter and smooth with the back of the spoon. Spoon over the lamb mince, top with pine nuts and a scattering of pomegranate seeds and parsley. Finish with a dusting of smoked paprika and serve with warm flat or pitta breads.