32 delicious ways with lamb It’s the West’s local meat—and tastier than ever. These show-stopper recipes show how deliciously far it’s come Fennel-Crusted Grilled Rack of Lamb Fennel seeds and rosemary perfume every bite of this tenderest of cuts. Recipe: Fennel-Crusted Grilled Rack of Lamb Pinterest Roast Leg of Lamb with Almond-Mint Pesto Mint jelly is traditional with lamb, but not everyone loves its cloying sweetness or garish color. This fresh mint pesto takes a more savory direction, and is rolled up in the lamb to flavor it as it roasts. Recipe: Roast Leg of Lamb with Almond-Mint Pesto Slow-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Spring Vegetables Hours of cooking on very low heat makes this lamb fall-off-the-bone tender, and a blast of high heat at the end crisps the surface. All you need to round out the dinner are mashed potatoes and a salad. Recipe: Slow-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Spring Vegetables Lamb Keema with Potatoes and Peas Ground lamb gets an Indian spin in this easy one-pot meal. It’s great when served with a few pieces of warmed naan. Recipe: Lamb Keema with Potatoes and Peas Lamb Burgers with Pea and Mint Relish Anyone can have a simple hamburger, but with a recipe like this one, the question is why? Grilled bread and a pea and mint relish enhance the juicy lamb. Recipe: Lamb Burgers with Pea and Mint Relish Lamb Chops with Roasted Salsa Quick-to-cook lamb chops served with a fresh summer salsa are all that’s needed for a simple weeknight dinner. We serve it with a salad loaded with good-quality feta for a complete meal. Recipe: Lamb Chops with Roasted Salsa Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs Bite-sized and full of flavor, these meatballs are an easy way to get out of the meatloaf rut. Recipe: Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs Coffee-Braised Spoon Lamb Coffee and lamb? You’ll be amazed at how well they compliment each other. The result is a luxurious meal that’s fairly easy to start and then ignore until ready with fall-off-the-bone results. Recipe: Coffee-Braised Spoon Lamb Grilled Apricot-stuffed Leg of Lamb We love how the sweet and tangy flavor from the apricots compliments the rich and tender leg of lamb. Recipe: Grilled Apricot-stuffed Leg of Lamb Lamb Shoulder Roast with Roasted Garlic Sauce The lamb is great, but it’s the toasty garlic sauce that gets drizzled over the top that makes this dish a winner. If you like lamb, but you love garlic, then this is the recipe for you. Recipe: Lamb Shoulder Roast with Roasted Garlic Sauce Harissa Lamb with Lemon Mint Chickpea Salad Super quick, and plenty flavorful, the harissa marinade does double duty as a spicy sauce once the lamb is cooked. Recipe: Harissa Lamb with Lemon Mint Chickpea Salad Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops with Pimenton Rub It may look simple, but these spiced-rubbed lamp chops are so flavorful; the first bite will be a shockingly delicious surprise. Recipe: Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops with Pimenton Rub Grilled Lamb and Halloumi Kebabs The lamb cubes are the perfect size for eating with bites of the warm and salty halloumi cheese and juicy tomatoes. Recipe: Grilled Lamb and Halloumi Kebabs Rosemary Grilled Leg of Lamb From Harrison Ford’s son, L.A. chef Ben Ford, comes a fabulous leg of wood-fired lamb, marinated in a heady mix of herbs and spices for a full day before it’s cooked over fire. What’s not to like? Recipe: Rosemary Grilled Leg of Lamb Lamb Blade Chops with Olive Parsley Salad The salad is so good, we recommend making a bit extra to have the next day on a sandwich or over grilled chicken. Recipe: Lamb Blade Chops with Olive Parsley Salad Creamy Lemon Soup with Lamb Mint Meatballs This soup is a fun play on avgolemono, the classic Greek lemon and rice soup. Ours is better, of course, because of the mini-meatballs that swim in the creamy broth. Recipe: Creamy Lemon Soup with Lamb Mint Meatballs So Amazing Armenian Lula Kebabs These truly are amazingly, amazingly delicious and easy to make for crowd. Serve with a bunch of Mediterranean sides, such as hummus and couscous, for a fun spread that will please the group. Recipe: So Amazing Armenian Lula Kebabs Bulgur Kebab Burritos Using leftover kebabs, or any other spiced ground lamb, as a part of a morning-on-the-go item, is a smart way to get two meals from one. Recipe: Bulgur Kebab Burritos Spring Lamb Roasted with Mint and Garlic We doubled this recipe so it could serve as a main course. Lamb loins are amazingly tender and flavorful but also expensive; we found that cheaper lamb shoulder roast (although tougher) works too. Just cook it a little longer—about 10 minutes more. Recipe: Spring Lamb Roasted with Mint and Garlic Spanish-Style Lamb Stew with Roasted Red Peppers Rich, warm, and spicy, this lamb stew is one of our favorites. We love to serve it as the main course to a spread of hearty red wines and warm crusty bread. Recipe: Spanish-Style Lamb Stew with Roasted Red Peppers Pistachio, Lamb, and Beef Burgers Arabic spices meet the Persian touch of pistachios in the kefta (skewered ground meat) at Mamnoon in Seattle, where the food combines the owners’ Syrian, Lebanese, and Persian heritage with chef Garrett Melkonian’s Armenian background. We opted for an easier version: burgers. Recipe: Pistachio, Lamb, and Beef Burgers Stuffed Kabocha Squash with Arabic Lamb Stew The sweet spices in this dish make it the perfect stew for autumn. Recipe: Stuffed Kabocha Squash with Arabic Lamb Stew Merguez with Chickpea Puree and Eggplant Jam Merguez, an aromatic North African sausage usually made from lamb, takes practically no time to grill. Spicy and smooth, the accompanying chickpea purée can stand in for hummus any old time. To make the eggplant jam especially silky, peel and seed the tomatoes. You could use skin-on seeded tomatoes in a pinch, or even good-quality canned. Recipe: Merguez with Chickpea Puree and Eggplant Jam Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Pistachio-Mint Salsa An aromatic, unusual salsa makes these kebabs—and their accompanying white-bean salad—extraordinary. Recipe: Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Pistachio-Mint Salsa Honey-Rosemary Lamb Sandwich Think sloppy joes, just jazzed up. Make the lamb mixture ahead of time and pack in a cooler along with goat cheese and spinach; then heat and assemble at camp. Recipe: Honey-Rosemary Lamb Sandwich Idaho Lamb Burgers For a tasty twist on a lamb burger, try stacking it with crispy potato chive cakes and Idaho mustard spread. We used Idaho's Lava Lake lamb (lavalakelamb.com) and Lark's Meadow Farms Dulcinea, a Basque-style raw sheep's-milk cheese, also from Idaho (larksmeadowfarms.com). Recipe: Idaho Lamb Burgers Grilled Lamb Chops with Turkish Grape Sauce Chef Burak Epir of Pilita Grill restaurant in San Carlos, CA, serves this Turkish-style sauce over lamb meatballs skewered with chunks of eggplant. We’ve grilled lamb chops instead, for a faster but equally delicious version. Recipe: Grilled Lamb Chops with Turkish Grape Sauce Lamb Shanks with Artichoke Caponata First baking the lamb shanks then adding them to the slow cooker with the caponata ensures both a golden exterior and juicy, flavorful center. Recipe: Lamb Shanks with Artichoke Caponata Lamb Shanks Adobo Jeff Smedstad, chef-owner of Elote Cafe ($$; closed Sun; elotecafe.com) in Sedona, Arizona, learned the secrets to great adobos (a type of chile-rich sauce) in the markets of central Mexico. This lamb dish is adapted from one in his book, Elote Cafe Cookbook (Elote Cafe Publishing; $30). Recipe: Lamb Shanks Adobo Lamb Shawarma with Couscous The spices in this dish is what really makes the flavor pop. It's great with the couscous, but you could also serve it over a Mediterranean salad, too. Recipe: Lamb Shawarma with Couscous Spice Lamb Chops with Rosemary Crumbs These are great for cocktail parties since you can eat them one-handed. Recipe: Spice Lamb Chops with Rosemary Crumbs Lamb Chops with Moroccan Barbecue Sauce Cabernet Franc is a great foil for the Moroccan flavors of this pungent lamb dish. Recipe: Lamb Chops with Moroccan Barbecue Sauce The West's local meat A good, rosy cut of lamb, succulent and earthy-sweet, is as purely delicious as any other meat you can eat. A lot of people might be skeptical, though. That’s because, only a few decades ago, American lamb was seriously gamy and tough. But American lamb is a whole different animal now. Sheep in this country used to be raised mainly for wool, their meat an afterthought. Then synthetic fibers came along, wool production waned, and the industry started to breed for flavor and tenderness. No matter how you feel about polyester, it sure has given us better lamb. There’s another reason to celebrate American lamb here in the West: It’s our local meat. Most comes from small Western family ranches (more than 75,000 of them) rather than factory farms. Some ranchers custom-sell lamb directly to consumers, right off the pasture, at any age desired, bypassing the usual six weeks or so of “finishing” the animals on grain in a feedlot. And though a well-raised lamb can taste fine finished on grain, lamb fed entirely from the range can be incredible. With grain prices climbing, we’ll probably be seeing more 100 percent grass-fed lamb, particularly at farmers’ markets. Delicate, mild, and seasoned with the flavors of the pasture, it’s Easter worthy. How to buy better lamb Choose a lighter hue of red. A younger animal will be milder, but size isn’t necessarily a clue, since American lamb is bred to be meaty. The biggest tip is the color: Pink or cherry red means it’s young (less than a year); if it’s dark purplish red, it’s older. Go for grass-fed when you can. Find 100 percent grass-fed lamb at eatwild.com and well-stocked grocery stores. Three of our favorite ranches that sell online: GrassRoots Meats (grassrootsmeats.com), Lava Lake Lamb (lavalakelamb.com) and Willow Spring Ranch Montana (montanaorganiclamb.com).