Cumin roast rump of spring lamb with olive and pepper caponata, English asparagus and Jersey royals
It does not get much more seasonal than this with tender spring lamb, colourful and flavour-packed caponata, fresh asparagus and potatoes
Two whole rumps of lamb (350g to 450g each), trimmed
100ml olive oil
One/two dessertspoons of cumin seeds
Sea salt and black pepper
For the caponata:
One red, one green and one yellow pepper, diced into 1.5cm pieces
150g pitted sliced olives — green Halkidiki and Kalamata olives are ideal
Juice and zest of small lemon
1 dessertspoon of baby capers, drained and rinsed
2 dessertspoons of lightly toasted pine nuts
2 or 3 cloves of peeled garlic
An aubergine diced into 1.5cm pieces
Red onion diced into 1.5cm pieces
Punnet of halved baby plum vine tomatoes
Fresh chopped basil, oregano and chives
2 dessertspoons aged balsamic or red wine vinegar
30g chopped marinated anchovies (optional)
For the vegetables:
2 bunches English asparagus
450g washed Jersey royals
To have ready
Oven at 200C/gas mark 6-7
2 pans of salted boiling water
One hot frying pan
2 oven trays
To make the caponata take your diced aubergine, peppers and red onion and place on a large baking tray ensuring the ingredients are spread out giving them enough space to roast, drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper and mix ensuring they are lightly coated in the oil. At this point if you are using dried herbs sprinkle them over the mixture and place the tray in a preheated oven at 200C or gas mark 6-7 for approximately 12 to 15 minutes or until your peppers and aubergine are softened and lightly roasted. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside.
Next, score the lamb fat in a criss-cross pattern and coat the meat in the olive oil, cumin seeds, salt and pepper. Seal all sides of the lamb in a super-hot frying/griddle pan paying extra attention to the layer of fat on top, once that has crisped up a little, place the lamb in the oven at 200C for 16 to 20 minutes.
While the lamb is cooking, finish off the caponata by adding the pine nuts, capers, vinegar, anchovies, fresh herbs, olives and tomatoes. Mix all these ingredients together and add a little more olive oil until it resembles a chunky salsa. Caponata can be served cold or hot, it is up to you. To heat simply place in the oven for a couple of minutes.
When the lamb is ready (internal temperature of approx 50 to 54C rare or 54 to 60 medium rare), take it out of the oven and rest for five to eight minutes. This is essential to allow the meat to relax, resulting in an evenly cooked tender piece of lamb.
While the lamb is resting, cook off the Jersey Royals in seasoned boiling water till they just start to break when checked between thumb and finger. To finish, drain and add a knob of butter, the chopped chives and pepper.
Finally blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for one minute.
MARC PRICE, head chef at The Baskerville in Lower Shiplake, shares his recipes with Henley Standard readers