The timing of Easter coincides with pagan springtime festivals, and lamb has become associated with rebirth and a fresh new season. Lamb forms the centerpiece of Easter celebrations in many Mediterranean and European countries. This paschal lamb evokes the lamb served at Passover. The iconography of the early Christian church is rich with lamb symbols, from the biblical references to Jesus Christ as “the lamb of God” and “shepherd to his flock” to the depiction of lamb in ecclesiastical paintings and sculptures. Lamb decorates altarpieces, stained-glass windows and carvings in Christian churches worldwide.
Lamb or sheep were among the first domesticated animals, dating back to 10,000+ years, originating in Mesopotamia. They were also among the first livestock to be kept for their meat. Because they could thrive on pasture as well as on rocky terrain, sheep were prized animals. Early civilizations used every part of the animal—the skin for parchment, the fat or tallow for candle wax and even the rams’ horns as musical instruments. From Mesopotamia, lamb and sheep then spread to Central Asia and then out to the rest of the world from there.
Lamb is among the most common livestock consumed throughout the world, linked to feasts and religious observances. Christians, Jews and Muslims celebrate with lamb, an essential part of the cuisine on Easter, Passover and Ramadan. Lamb is symbolic of spring, sacrifice and fertility and it unites people around a table of delicious food. For centuries, in humble homes, on the street and in the finest restaurants, this versatile meat has been grilled, seared, braised, roasted, stewed and served everywhere. From earliest antiquity, sheep and lambs were sacrificed to the gods and acquired the symbolic value of an innocent victim. Since then, lamb meat has often been a delicacy served as an expression of welcome. It has been featured in banquets and celebrations and on special occasions in people’s lives, such as births, circumcisions and weddings for millenia.
Lamb is the preferred meat and protein source in the Mediterranean countries. Lamb is very nutritious and is a very good source of iron. It contains more iron than chicken or fish. Greeks have the highest per-capita consumption of lamb in the European Union. It is also a very popular meat source in both Australia and New Zealand.
“Traditional meat dishes from the Mediterranean regions are made with almost more vegetables than meat and are intended to be served like a sauce, with a complex carbohydrate, whether pasta, rice, potatoes, or polenta”. (p. 312 The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, Nancy Harmon Jenkins).
As you all know, I love to recreate from my leftovers. I used my leftover Easter lamb and recreated it to make a traditional Greek lamb and artichoke stew. Of course, I mixed and matched and made it it my own, but I also kept it within the traditions and spirit of the Mediterranean cultures. Would you expect anything any different from me? 🙂
I served my lamb stew over the tri-colored pearl couscous with my leftover herbed popovers. Because it was lamb, which is a red meat, I served it with a fruit forward, medium-full bodied pinot noir.
My lamb was already cooked, which obviously reduces the cooking time, but I will give you the recipe for uncooked lamb.
Greek Lamb and Artichoke Stew
1-1 1/2 lbs lamb, cubed
3 TBSP olive oil for cooking
1-2 TBSP lemon olive oil, optional
1 onion, diced
1 TBSP garlic
2 carrots, diced
3-4 tomatoes, diced
1 cup sliced olives, I like to used mixed olives
1 can artichokes, drained
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup dry white wine
1 TBSP flour mixed with 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
fresh cilantro and parsley, chopped for topping
Heat the oil(s) in a large skillet and then add the meat. Brown the meat thoroughly, then remove and set aside.
Add the onions, garlic and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and the carrots are tender.
Add the tomatoes, artichokes, beans and olives and mix together well. Then add the wine, flour and water mixture and seasonings.
Re-add the lamb. I cut my lamb into thin strips. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and continue to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasonings as needed at the last couple of minutes of the cooking process. Then serve over rice, pasta, potatoes or couscous and top with the cilantro and parsley.
Delicious! This is the type of dish you will find all throughout the Greek Isles, as well as any other Mediterranean country. It is filled with all kinds of vegetables and proteins and goodness.
Have a great day and make everyday great. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.
2 thoughts on “Easter Lamb To Greek Lamb Stew”
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Thank you. 🙂
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