What's for Dinner: Middle Eastern Lamb with Cucumber Salad

This dish is so attractive and so delicious that no one will guess how easy it was to make. The minty, garlicky cucumber salad offers the perfect complement to the broiled lamb.

Credit: Cooking to Beat the Clock: Delicious, Inspired Meals in 15 Minutes by Sam Gugino

Servings: 4


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 butterflied leg of lamb, 1 3/4 to 2 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and pounded evenly (by the butcher if possible) to about half its original thickness
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 large English (seedless) cucumbers
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 large sprigs mint or 4 teaspoons dried mint
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 4 pocketless pita breads, 7 to 8 inches in diameter


Turn on the broiler and set the broiler pan so it's 6 inches from the heat source. Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, rub the lamb with the cumin and salt and pepper. (If the butcher hasn't done so, pound the lamb between two sheets of aluminum foil or wax paper with the side of a cleaver or a meat pounder before seasoning.)

Put the lamb in the skillet, raise the heat to high and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes (depending on thickness) on each side for medium rare in the middle.

While the lamb cooks, put the yogurt in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl to drain excess liquid. Peel and thinly slice the cucumbers. Put into a large mixing bowl. Peel and mince the garlic. Stack the fresh mint leaves, then roll and cut crosswise into ribbons. (If using dried mint, crush the leaves between your fingers.) Add the garlic, mint, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste to the cucumbers. Mix well. Add the drained yogurt and mix again. Pour into a serving bowl.

Brush one side of each pita with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until crisp and browned on one side. Meanwhile, thinly slice the lamb on the diagonal against the grain. Serve the lamb on a platter. Put the crisp pita in a basket. Serve with the cucumber salad.

Print this recipe.

Going to pound the lamb yourself? Shop for a meat tenderizer.

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