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.
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,
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
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.
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.
© 2005 Peter Gordon. All rights reserved.