Celebrate Spring With Lamb Pilaf

June 14 00:00 2005 Print This Article

In many cuisines, lamb is a traditional way to welcome spring. Middle Eastern cooking in particular is partial to lamb in many forms. It is a common ingredient in the rice pilafs that originated in that part of the world more than 700 years ago.

Pilafs are grain-based dishes that often contain a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and nuts as well as meat. They offer an opportunity to use more healthful whole grains rather than refined versions. Pilafs can be made with barley, bulgur, kasha, buckwheat groats, rice, or couscous.

The following American adaptation of a traditional pilaf has a one-third to two-thirds proportion of meats to whole grains and other plant-based foods. This is the proportion followed by the New American Plate, an approach to eating that is recommended by the American Institute of Cancer Research for reducing the risk of cancer and other serious health problems.

The dried fruits and nuts in Middle Eastern pilafs are rich in substances that have been studied for their anti-cancer properties. Apricots are especially rich in beta carotene which, in some instances, seems to decrease the risk of lung and oral cancers, and may also play a role in generally slowing the progression of cancer. Raisins contain phenols, natural compounds that are powerful antioxidants.

Spring Lamb and Couscous Pilaf

Makes 8 servings.

  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander, divided
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. lean lamb (loin chop or tenderloin)
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 1 box (10 oz.) couscous (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots cut into slivers
  • 1/2 cup Sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 3 cups boiling water, divided
  • 1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, or slivered almonds
  • 2 cups frozen green peas
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh mint leaves, stems removed, for garnish (optional)
  1. Mix together cumin, cinnamon, half the coriander and salt. Rub into the lamb. Let stand 30 to 60 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add couscous and stir, cooking 1 to 2 minutes, until grains turn translucent and shiny. Remove from heat. Mix in remaining coriander, apricots and raisins. Pour in 2 cups of boiling water, stirring briskly. Cover and let stand 7 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, toast nuts in a skillet over medium heat, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Transfer nuts to a small bowl.
  4. Stir couscous with fork to fluff grains. Add remaining boiling water. Place peas on top of couscous. Cover and let stand 5 minutes more.
  5. Cut lamb into thin, bite-sized slices. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat until hot, add remaining oil and heat until hot. Add lamb and saut until lightly browned.
  6. Fluff couscous with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in lamb and nuts. Transfer to a serving dish or individual plates. Sprinkle mint on top, if desired.

Per Serving:
345 calories,
11 g. total fat,
2 g. saturated fat,
46 g. carbohydrate,
17 g. protein,
5 g. dietary fiber,
373 mg. sodium

Source: AICR

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