Rosemary-Crusted Lamb Loin, Confit Garlic, Roast Tomato, Sugar Snap and Watercress Salad

With Olive and Mint Dressing

banner

This salad can be served warm or cold – you can either cook the lamb at the last minute or cook it a few hours before and then slice it at your leisure. You can also cook the tomatoes and garlic a few days in advance if you want to save time on the day, and then just cook the lamb an hour or two before you need it.

The amount of olive oil used to cook the garlic may seem excessive, but you need to cover all the cloves to cook them properly. Look at it as a way to produce something delicious for other meals, as any leftover oil can be used in a salad dressing or marinade, mixed into mashed potatoes or drizzled over grilled or poached meats.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 800 g lamb loin fillet, trimmed of sinew and fat
  • 2 large handfuls of watercress, leaves and only a little of the stem
  • 2 large handfuls of sugar snap peas, blanched and refreshed in iced water
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

For the Confit Garlic

  • 16 garlic cloves, separated but still in the skin
  • 250 ml extra-virgin olive oil

For the Roast Tomatoes

  • 8 medium tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Olive and Mint Dressing

  • handful of stoned olives
  • handful of mint leaves
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice

Method

You can cook the confit garlic in two ways: on the stove or in the oven (the latter is better for larger amounts). To cook it in the oven, preheat it to 170°C, gas 3½. Place the garlic in a small pan and pour on the oil and 100 ml water. Bring to the boil, then tip it into a small non-reactive roasting dish just large enough to hold it all comfortably, cover tightly and bake for 90 minutes. It’s ready when the garlic cloves can easily be squeezed between your fingers; if they seem a little firm, cook them a bit longer. To cook the garlic on the stove, put the same amount of oil and garlic into a small pot, then add ½ cup of hot water and bring to the boil. Turn down to a very gentle simmer and cook for 45–60 minutes – you need it to bubble away and ultimately for the garlic to gently ‘fry’ in the oil. It’ll be ready when all the water has evaporated.

To make the roast tomatoes, slice the tomatoes across in half and lay on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Drizzle the oil over the cut sides, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and bake for 1½-2 hours, until the tomato halves have shrivelled a little and are lightly coloured. These can be baked in the oven with the garlic if you’re doing it that way. If you’re doing them in advance, leave them to cool before storing them in a single layer on a tray in the fridge, tightly sealed with cling film.

Pound the rosemary, coarse salt, peppercorns and oil to a paste using a pestle and mortar, or use a small food processor. Rub this into the lamb and wrap tightly in cling film, then leave to marinate for 1–2 hours.

To prepare the olive and mint dressing, roughly chop the olives and shred the mint. Mix with 3 tablespoons of the garlic cooking oil and leave to one side.

An hour before you plan to eat, turn the oven up to 180°C, gas 4. Heat a heavy ovenproof pan to smoking point, then unwrap the lamb and add it to the pan. Cook for 1 minute each side, then place the pan in the oven and roast for 7 minutes for medium and 10 for medium to well-done. Take from the oven and let rest in a warm (not hot) place for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

To Serve

Finish the dressing by adding the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning. Mix the confit garlic, watercress, sugar snaps, tomatoes and lamb in a large bowl and divide it between 4 plates, then place the tomato halves on top. Serve the dressing in a bowl and the lemon wedges on the side.