Lamb: excellent source of protein with health benefits

Lamb is commonly included as a meat in Mediterranean diets, which have been shown to have several health benefits including to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Grass-fed lamb is a significant source of omega-3 fats associated with decreased risk of inflammation.

In addition to being an excellent source of protein lamb is also a very good source of a multitude of minerals including iron, zinc and selenium and vitamins including B12, B6, thiamin and niacin.

Moroccan lemon and cardamom meatballs

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground lamb 500 g
  • 1/2 medium red onion, very finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced 5 cm
  • 1/4 c. plain dry bread crumbs 60 mL
  • 1 large egg, well beaten
  • a handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/2 c. pine nuts or sliced almonds 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. fresh feta cheese, finely crumbled 125 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom 5 mL
  • olive oil for frying

For the sauce:

  • 2/3 c. tahini 150 mL
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 tsp. salt 3 mL
  • water


  • pine nuts or sliced almonds
  • chopped parsley, cilantro or mint
  • a sprinkling of smoked paprika or sumac

Set oven to 350 F (180 C).

Place the lamb, onion, garlic, ginger, bread crumbs, beaten egg, fresh herbs, lemon zest, pine nuts or almonds, feta cheese, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt and pepper into a large bowl. Mix everything together using your fingertips. You want to get all the ingredients evenly distributed without compacting the meat.

Form walnut-sized meatballs from the mixture. You can do this several hours ahead of time if you want, but be sure to cover the bowl completely with a pan lid or plate and refrigerate until needed.

Cover the bottom of a heavy pan with olive oil and heat until hot. Work in batches so you don’t crowd the pan, and brown the meatballs on all sides. Add more oil as necessary.

Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through. Ground lamb should be cooked to about 160 F (70 C).

Meanwhile, make the sauce by mixing the tahini and lemon juice, and then adding enough water to make a thin sauce. Salt it to taste. The tahini will seize up immediately upon adding more liquid but just keep working it and adding a bit more water, as needed.

Serve the meatballs hot from the oven, nestled in the sauce. Garnish with more nuts, herbs and a sprinkling of sumac or paprika.

Vij’s Lamb popsicles with fenugreek curry

I found ground fenugreek powder at our local Nutter’s store in the spice section. Fresh fenugreek, sometimes called methi, has also been available at my local Wholesale Club in the summer.

Failing that you can buy online from Silk Road Spices in Calgary.

  • 1/4 c. sweet white wine 60 mL
  • 3/4 c. grainy yellow mustard 180 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 3 lb. racks of lamb 1.8 kg
  • 4 c. whipping cream 1 L
  • 1 tbsp. salt 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. paprika 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper 2 mL
  • 1 tbsp. dried green fenugreek leaves or powder 15 mL
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. canola oil 60 mL
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped garlic 45 mL
  • 1 tsp. turmeric 5 mL

Combine wine, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Prepare lamb by cutting between each rib to make a lamb chop. Then french the end of the bones by stripping off all meat and fat until it is bare. Add lamb to marinade and coat well.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for two to four hours.

For curry sauce, in a large bowl, combine cream, salt, paprika, cayenne, fenugreek and lemon juice.

Whisk until totally combined. Heat three to four tablespoons (45-60 mL) of oil in a medium pot on medium heat and sauté garlic until golden.

Stir in turmeric and cook for one minute. Stir in the cream mixture and cook on low to medium heat for about five minutes. Whisk until smooth.

Finish lamb by preheating a stove-top cast iron grill or barbecue to high heat. Cook for two to three minutes per side.

Serve hot. Pour the cream curry onto the plate or in a bowl and place four to five lamb chops on top. Use the sauce as a dipping sauce. Serves six. (Recipe from Vikram Vij and his namesake Vancouver restaurant Vij’s.)

Rosemary braised lamb shanks

Lamb shanks are slowly simmered with fresh rosemary, garlic, tomatoes, and red wine. Great served roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

  • 6 lamb shanks
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil 30 mL
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds .5 cm
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle red wine 750 mL
  • 1 – 28 fl. oz. can whole peeled tomatoes with juice 875 mL
  • 1 – 10.5 fl. oz. can condensed chicken broth 310 mL
  • 1 -10.5 fl. oz. can beef broth310 mL
  • 5 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary 25 mL
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme 10 mL
  • season shanks with salt and pepper

Heat oil in heavy large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Working in batches, cook shanks until brown on all sides, about eight minutes. Transfer shanks to plate.

Add onions, carrots and garlic to pot and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Stir in wine, tomatoes, chicken broth and beef broth. Season with rosemary and thyme. Return shanks to pot, pressing down to submerge.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover, and simmer until meat is tender, about two hours.

Remove cover from pot. Simmer about 20 minutes longer. Transfer shanks to platter, place in a warm oven.

Boil juices in pot until thickened, about 15 minutes. Spoon over shanks.

Lamb burgers

  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped onion 30 mL
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley 30 mL
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. spicy brown mustard 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. prepared horseradish 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper 2 mL
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 lb. ground lamb 500 g
  • 1 tbsp. butter 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil 15 mL
  • 4 brioche hamburger buns, halved
  • 4 leaves lettuce
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, sliced 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick

In a medium bowl, mix together the onion, garlic, parsley, mint, mustard, horseradish, Worcestershire, salt, cumin, pepper and egg. Add the lamb and mix well with your hands.

Shape the lamb mixture into four patties. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, then add the butter and canola oil. Place the cold patties in the skillet and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through, four to six minutes per side for medium-well.

Place the burgers on the buns, and layer with lettuce, red onions and tomatoes.

Cooking For a Crew Contest

TEAM Resources is looking for readers’ favourite recipes for feeding their crew, even if it’s only one or two people.

Send your “Cooking for a Crew or One and Two” recipe entries to or mail to:

The Western Producer

1000-3530 Millar Avenue

Saskatoon, SK

S7P 0B6

All entries must be received by April 30. A draw for a selection of cookbooks will be made from all of the entries.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at Contact:

About the author


Stories from our other publications