Having a little cool weather? Spring time around here has plenty of cool days which are perfect for making this easy and tasty Greek inspired spring lamb and artichoke stew full of lean lamb, artichokes, tomatoes, and plenty of fresh oregano. I like to serve it over brown rice, but it would be great with bread or with other grains, such as bulgur or farro or some nice, whole wheat couscous.
I’ve been making this stew for…oh let’s just say ‘a very long time.’ 🙂 I have the recipe in my big, blue book of my old favorites. Over the years I’ve had a few different recipe collections – a binder, some notebooks, a roughly organized pile of loose papers, each of which is from a period in time, and it’s a bit like an archeological dig going through them. You can see the layers and eras of my cooking interests with some recipes continuing on and changing with time and others falling by the wayside. Between my strong interest in developing new recipes and all the tasty, tested older recipes I already have, it’s going to be a long time before I run out of ideas here! If ever.
Over the years I’ve updated this stew with more fresh herbs and the fresher flavors of whole tomatoes over tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. And, if you can get baby artichokes, it would be totally great trim them and chop them and use them in the recipe. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen any, so I go with canned artichokes. Luckily in a stew like this, canned artichokes work very nicely, which means you can make this any time of year.
For the meat, I usually use leg of lamb slices since they have them in the meat case at my market. Lamb stewing meat would be fine, though I find the quality of premade stewing meat to be uneven. Another choice would be to get a boneless (or partially deboned) leg of lamb and carve off a portion for the stew. For the rest you can have Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb for dinner!
One reason I love to make this in the spring, other than my association of spring with artichokes, is that my oregano begins to sprout back up in April and May. If you have a little land for growing herbs, I would very much recommend growing oregano. Depending on your climate, of course! It’s a perennial herb which is just about impossible to kill – an excellent thing for my black thumb – and will survive even very cold winters to come back. Fresh oregano is much milder than dried oregano, so you can use quite a bit of it in a recipe without overwhelming the flavors. But, whether you use dried or fresh oregano, don’t skip it in the stew. It provides such a great Mediterranean flavor that the stew would be sad without it. And you don’t want sad stew.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1½ lb lamb, cut in 1½ inch cubes
- 3 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 oz tomato paste
- 28 oz whole tomatoes, pureed
- 2 15 oz cans large artichokes, drained and quartered
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, or 2 tsp dried
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- In a large oven-safe pot, heat ½ tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the lamb in two batches and saute until lightly browned. Remove the lamb to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the remaining ½ tbsp of olive oil; then add the onions, garlic, and salt. Saute until the onions are soft and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the red wine and bring to a boil.
- Cook the wine down for 2-3 minutes. Then stir in the tomato paste and pureed tomatoes, and add back the lamb. Once the stew comes to a boil again, cover it, and transfer it to the oven.
- Cook the stew for 1½ hours. Add the artichokes and cook, covered, for 1 hour more. Take the stew out of the oven, stir in the parsley and oregano and serve.
Fresh mint is also a good flavor in this stew. If you have it, add 1-2 tablespoons at the end with the other herbs.
I usually serve the stew over brown rice.