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A Savory Meal for Spring Celebrations

(Family Features)

April 7, 2022

From picnics and family reunions to al fresco meals on the patio, flavor and freshness can make springtime dishes truly mouthwatering. As you plan your spring menu for time with loved ones, think outside the box with recipes that can feed a crowd.

One easy way to elevate your warm weather entertaining is with a lean, delicate protein like grass-fed Lamb available at Whole Foods Market from Atkins Ranch, a leader in environmental stewardship and one of the first members of Land to Market, which advocates for regenerative agriculture - a type of outcomes-based land management that seeks to heal landscapes instead of degrading them. In fact, many of the Lamb ranchers set aside areas for conservation purposes to focus on regenerating land and water to keep the environment as pristine as possible.

The Lambs are raised just as nature intended: 100% grass-fed and free to roam on pastures in fresh air and sunshine, culminating in a result that's better for you, the animals and the planet.

As the first Lamb Producer in the world to achieve Non-GMO Project verification, Atkins Ranch is also the first to achieve Global Animal Partnership Step-4 Certification for Farm Animal Welfare. If you're unfamiliar with Lamb, consider these cooking tips and pairing options for a deliciously divine spread at your next springtime soiree.

How to Cook Lamb
For cuts like: legs, shanks, shoulder roasts and stew meat, slow cooking is the answer. This Herb Crusted Bone-In Leg of Lamb, for example, is roasted for about 3 hours to reach a juicy tenderness complimented by fresh herbs and a mint sauce.

Turn to the grill or stovetop for a quicker cooking method with cuts such as: chops, rack and ground Lamb. Cooking over an open fire allows the smokiness to meld with Lamb's naturally rich flavor.

What to Pair with Lamb
With its rich, meaty flavor, Lamb is a perfect main course for spring meals. Try balancing it out with these sides:

• Salad - Like many proteins, Lamb is complimented very well by fresh greens. Toss baby spinach with a light vinaigrette and fresh fruit, like strawberries, for a true springtime salad.
• Sweet Potatoes - The subtlety of a sweet potato dish is nearly a must to pair with Lamb. Sweeten the meal even further by mashing with orange juice and zest for a slightly tangy side.
• Asparagus - A classic side for many spring meals, roasted asparagus is easy to prepare whether in the oven or on the grill.

Find more grass-fed Lamb cooking tips and recipes at:

Herb Crusted Bone-In Leg of Lamb
Prep time: 3 hours
Cook time: about 3 hours (depending on the size and doneness)
Servings: 15

1 Atkins Ranch Bone-In Leg of Lamb (about 8 pounds)
1/4 Cup of olive oil
8 Cloves garlic, finely minced
2 Tablespoons of Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons of Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup of white wine

Herb Crust:
2 Large egg whites
2 Tablespoons of minced rosemary leaves
2 Tablespoons of minced thyme leaves
2 Tablespoons of ground peppercorns
1 Tablespoon of Kosher Salt

fresh mint sauce, for serving

About 2 hours before preparing, remove the leg of Lamb from the fridge to ensure even cooking. Remove the glands to prevent gaminess during the cooking.

Preheat the oven to 325˚ F on the convection setting. Score the skin on both sides of the Leg of Lamb.

In a bowl, whisk the olive oil, the garlic, the Dijon Mustard, the salt and the white wine. Brush it onto both sides of the Lamb, pressing it into the scored crevices.

Place the Leg of Lamb in the roasting pan on a roasting rack. Insert the cooking probe into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone. Cook it for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 95˚ F.

Reduce the oven’s temperature to 300˚ F and cook it to your desired doneness. For medium-rare, remove the Lamb once the probe reaches 125˚ F.

To make the herb crust: In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are evenly foamy with tiny bubbles and then brush it onto both sides of the Lamb.

In a separate small bowl, mix the rosemary, the thyme, the peppercorns and the salt. Press the herb crust mixture onto the areas that have been brushed with the egg whites. Place the Lamb back in the pan and cook it for about 5-7 minutes, until the crust is formed and browned. Remove the Lamb from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Carve the Lamb, arrange it on a platter and serve it with the fresh mint sauce.

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