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Juicy spring lamb
James Carrier
Portuguese flavors resonate in this Easter dinner: Garlic and herbs coat the lamb; mint dusts the asparagus.


On the steep hills of the port-producing Douro River Valley in northern Portugal, the seven siblings of the Viseu family tend the vineyards their great-grandfather bought in 1820. “The Quinta de Santa Euf―mia represents our roots,” explains Bernardo Viseu. And as they manage the estate, they nurture those ancestral roots, gathering in the vineyards on weekends and holidays for hearty family feasts.

I shared one such festive meal with the clan in the winery overlooking their vines. The menu, bursting with the greens of spring and anchored by a leg of lamb, would be ideal for Easter dinner.

As with most Portuguese food, the familiar ingredients and flavors ― fresh vegetables and tender lamb, embellished very simply with garlic, herbs, and olive oil ― are easy to embrace and produce. The golden flan, kissed with port, melts in your mouth.

Products from Portugal, such as cheese and wine, give the menu authenticity but aren’t essential. The imported cheeses are available in some specialty food stores; Joe Matos Cheese Factory in Santa Rosa, California, makes a Portuguese-style cheese (to order, call 707/584-5283).

Preparation countdown

Up to 2 days ahead: Roast almonds and bake flan.

Up to 1 day ahead: Make soup, rinse and crisp lettuce for salad, season lamb, and cook asparagus (if serving at room temperature).

2 hours ahead: Roast lamb.

45 minutes ahead: Cook pilaf.

15 minutes ahead: Reheat soup, dress asparagus, and make salad.

10 minutes before dessert: Unmold flan and slice berries.

Browse more ideas for lamb in our Kitchen Assistant recipe finder

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