Lamb & Lentil Salad

18 Jul 2016

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Nothing says summer more than lunch al fresco under the canopy of one of our massive ash trees on the farm with plenty of salads, warm soda bread out of the oven, and my fresh butter on the table.

Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) recently asked me to be a part of their “Lamb. Tasty, Easy, Funcampaign and I couldn’t refuse as lamb is a firm favourite on the farm. Lamb is possibly more special to me as it was not as readily available in the USA when I was growing up, and definitely falls under the special meals category. Here, we eat lamb quite frequently as there are so many cuts to choose from, and all of them are delicious. I particularly enjoy my visiting my friend Suzanna Crampton’s Zwartbles farm and if we are lucky she sends us off with a parcel of meat from her herd.

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Greek Salad with Lentils & Lamb
This super simple Greek-style lamb salad, is packed with flavor and nutrients and is perfect for an easy + light summer supper; you can double or triple the recipe if you are entertaining friends. The recipe calls for fillet of lamb (ask the butcher) or lamb steaks. I hadn’t used either of those cuts before and I must say, the fillet was incredibly tasty and tender. Let me know if you give it a go! You can find more fantastic Irish lamb recipes here.

Prep time: 20 minutes (+30 minutes resting time)
Cooking times 4-10 minutes
600g lamb fillet or lamb steaks
224g tin of cooked green lentils (or you can prepare your own)
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper
5 tbsp olive oil
250g cherry tomatoes
200g feta style cheese
½ cucumber, deseeded
½ red onion
6 springs flat leaf parsley
6 sprigs mint
12 pitted black olives
Place the lentils in the fine sieve and rinse with plenty of cold water, then leave to drain.
Mix the lemon juice with a little salt and peper in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 tbsp olive oil, then whisk.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Chop the cheese and cucumber into small pieces. Finely slice the red onion and chop the herbs. Place everything into the mixing bowl with the lentils and olives. Mix, cover and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Take the lamb out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. This will take approximately 30 minutes. Pre-heat the barbeque or frying pan on high heat. Brush the lamb fillets/steaks with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place on the bbq or in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, then reduce the heat and continue to cook depending on your preference and the thickness of the cut. Remove from bbq or pan and leave to rest for 2 minutes.
Cut into strips and serve with lentil salad and bread.
Scullery notes: Be sure to not oversalt the vinaigrette as the feta and olives are already quite salty.

Keep an eye on my media/events page, I will be travelling to Chicago, Wisconsin & Mpls this summer and have a few fun book events planned!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen xx

Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell 2016.

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Farm Fresh….Foodie?

24 May 2010

Nettle Soup

Last Thursday I was privileged to attend an amazing Irish Foodie event in Dublin, organised by Donal Skehan and Bord Bia (the Irish food board).  I met loads of fabulous foodies such as: 9BeanRow, Dinner DuJour, The Friendly Cottage, The Daily Spud, Icanhascook?, Bibliocook and An American In Ireland and was thoroughly inspired by all the warm personalities and informative food demos put forth on the day. {Oh yes, and for those of you who have a bit of a crush on Donal, he is every bit as charming and lovely in person as he is on television or via his website and twitter}

Truth be told, I had always intended to bring food to the forefront of this blog. It just made sense…it’s what we do best out here in the countryside. Cook, eat. Eat, cook. In particular, my idea was to feature traditional Irish farm dishes combined with a modern American girl’s cookery style. {ahem, yes that would be me}

Somewhere along the way, I was sidetracked by the many distractions of life on the farm, but also, I had a few apprehensions about going in that direction. These foodie fears are as follows:

  1. Does the world really need another food blogger?
  2. If I start food blogging will my body become large (or large-er)? *

Two obviously very important concerns. The good news is that I was not worried about the actual cooking/devising recipes part of the equation. I feel fairly confident in my culinary skills to pull it off and have frequently been told that my little “gift” may be be worth pursuing more seriously. {having said that, I suppose they were all drunkenly delirious at the time of  these said statements}. I also have wide-ranging experience with filming food from my years in advertising production which should work to my advantage as I imagine my OCD tendencies would too.

So does the world really need another food blogger? Well, up until I went to the event last week…it was definitely questionable in my mind. In the USA, this niche is completely saturated and dare I say, nearly “old news”.  Still, I see things differently. I see that for so many people {myself included} food is truly a complete passion and to be able to create and share this vibrant passion with the world brings a tremendous amount of joy to their lives. And, we all know that joy certainly makes the world a better place.  If that weren’t enough, I’m convinced that food blogging is very much a highly creative endeavour. At least it will definitely be for me. Creating a scandalously delicious dish, taking a pretty photograph of it, followed by carefully composing 200-500 words about each preparation takes loads of creative thought, time and energy-if you want to put your best foot forward. Whether it’s mixing up a prosecco cocktail made with a cardamom-pear infusion or a simple traditional Irish stew, your senses are put to work on so many levels. So, because this kind of passion is sensationally creative and simply fuels my raison d’etre then I say: long live cooking/baking/blogging/writing/photography/television…anything foodie, really!

My plan is to proceed by collaborating with my mother-in-law and other Irish foodies to discover the best traditional Irish recipes around. I will draw from the farm as well as Ireland at large and then will lovingly prepare and imaginatively shoot them for you all to nip in and have a look as you see fit.  I will also continue to write about all the other bits and bobs that I experience here as well as featuring Irish talent whom inspire me. If food isn’t your thing, please don’t go away.  I promise I will still share all the silly snags and shenanigans of my Irish country life.

Well, having spilled the beans on my new adventure I am looking forward to the glorious month of June which will be spent in the USA where I will be shopping for a shiny new camera like this.  And this time, I will have even more fun going to my favourite foodie haunts such as Williams-Sonoma, Cooks of Crocus Hill and the one and only Target to find some fabulous new utensils for our kitchen. I’ll finish off with an afternoon or more spent at Crate&Barrel, Pottery Barn, PatinaAnthropologieAmpersand and Victory for colourful and smart accents to add to our collection..and to make for really lovely props.

I am so thrilled to get started on this and I hope you will join me on my Foodie journey! I’m looking for your favorite Irish traditional dishes and would love to hear your suggestions. Just leave a comment below.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

*As far as my concern about getting “large”. Well, I guess that’s my own problem! (But, Donal, we all want to know your secret to staying thin and making all that yummy food all the time?!)

Photo courtesy of “The Country Cooking of Ireland” by Colman Andrews and Christopher Hirsheimer, photographer.

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