If you’re looking for an elegant entree to place in the middle of your dining table, look no farther. This Roasted Leg of Lamb gives an impressive presentation yet it’s much easier than you would think. Minced garlic, herbs, and spices add depth of flavor to this tender meat, while the roasted tomatoes, olives and onions create a lovely compliment as a side. This dish will prove to be the crowning display of beauty at your next get together.
Roasted Leg of Lamb with Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives – Elegant but Simple
If you know anything about me, my “style” whether it’s decorating, fashion or food, tends to lean toward an “elegant but simple” design. And you won’t believe how SIMPLE this Roasted Leg of Lamb is.
I love to make recipes that look as if they take a lot of time and energy but, in reality, are amazingly painless. And, I promise, this Leg of Lamb recipe is quite deceptive in a really good way. Make a rub of spices and herbs, throw the lamb in to roast and relax with a glass of wine while the oven does all the work.
Don’t be intimidated to cook Lamb – It’s so easy
Before I started cooking with lamb, I was quite intimidated by it. It always seemed easier to go out and order it from a fine dining establishment. But it’s difficult to find lamb on a menu. Therefore, I decided some time ago to give it a go myself. Now, lamb has become one of my favorite meats to prepare and serve.
Because the leg of lamb can be somewhat expensive, you want to make sure the results are worth the money spent. But believe it or not, lamb is one of the easiest meats to cook. If you follow the tips that I have included in this post, it’s pretty simple to end up with a tender, juicy and flavorful entree.
Tips for an irresistible Leg of Lamb
Tip #1 – Pull the Leg of Lamb out of the refrigerator early
Remove the lamb from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature at least an hour (depending on its size) before you throw it in the oven. This lets the meat relax and its natural juices reabsorb into the muscles. Taking the chill off of the meat will cut down on your cooking time and ensure the lamb is roasted evenly throughout.
Tip #2 – Truss the Leg of Lamb with butcher twine
Trussing is simply tying the meat with butcher twine (cotton kitchen string) which holds everything tightly in place and helps the lamb cook more uniformly. Trussing is probably the only “real” effort and time that goes into this recipe. But even this is super easy.
Check out this youtube video which takes you step by step through the process. Most of the time when you buy a boneless leg of lamb, it has an elastic netting around it which you can actually use instead of tying it yourself. I’m not as crazy about this look because it’s just not that pretty. The best option all around is asking your butcher to roll and tie it for you.
If I were roasting for a large group and especially during the Holiday season I would probably choose the whole bone-in leg of lamb. It’s a little more “fancy” than the boneless leg of lamb on a Thanksgiving or Christmas table. You would still tie it and roast it the same (but with different cooking times.) With the recipe you find here, I went with boneless and found it to be just as enticing though.
Tip #3 – Don’t Marinate – Use a Rub with Minced Garlic, Spices and Herbs
Marinating is usually left for tougher pieces of meat. And because lamb is naturally tender, there is no value in using a marinade for this particular recipe. The fibers of the lamb can be broken down too much with marinating, causing the texture to become mushy and mealy.
So for this recipe, I went with a rub, which btw makes this meat incredibly flavorful. It consists of minced garlic, spices, and herbs. It’s honestly the perfect enhancement for this lamb. I, first of all, smear olive oil all over the meat, generously sprinkle it with salt and pepper and finally rub the spice mixture on every square inch of this lamb – top, bottom and sides. This rub would actually be fantastic on any roast you want to make.
Tip #4 – Sear the Meat before Roasting
Searing the meat locks in the juices before you ever start roasting. When you sear, the natural sugars caramelize and the rub becomes nice and crispy which creates a lovely brown crust on the surface. Preheat the oven to 450°F, let it get really hot and then place the leg of lamb, uncovered, in the oven. Fifteen minutes is a good amount of time to establish a nice outer crust.
Once you pull out the seared roast, turn the oven down to 325°F scatter the tomatoes, onions, kalamata olives, and lemon wedges all around the lamb. It goes back in the oven, again uncovered, anywhere from 45-55 minutes.
Tip #5 – Use an instant-read, digital thermometer
Cooking time is not the best indicator of when a roast is done. I always use an instant-read thermometer to test its doneness. When it comes to this Roasted Leg of Lamb with Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives, I prefer it cooked “rare.” I want that beautiful red meat showing through when I slice and plate it. Everybody has their own preference so I am including this cooking chart (below) which I found on What’s Cooking America.
Rare: 120 to 125 degrees F – center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion
Medium Rare: 130 to 135 degrees F – center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion
Medium: 140 to 145 degrees F – center is light pink, outer portion is brown
Medium Well: 150 to 155 degrees F – not pink
Well Done: 160 degrees F and above – meat is uniformly brown throughout
Tip #6 – Let the meat “rest” before slicing.
Probably the most important part of cooking any type of meat is the “resting time” once it comes out of the oven. We can become so impatient that we want to slice into it immediately. But this can be the “make-it” or “break-it” part of the finished dish.
The juices need time to redistribute back into the meat. If you cut into it too soon, all those lovely juices just seep right on out. Once it’s out of the oven, remove the meat from the pan and tent a large piece of foil over the meat and let it sit for about 15 minutes. This is the perfect time to put the finishing touches on a side dish, set the table or put your feet up and relax a bit.
The roasted tomatoes, onions and kalamata olives are an excellent match-up for the roast. The flavors mingle together through the cooking process and boost the overall dish. These roasted veggies not only infuse the meat with incredible flavors, but they also create an enticing side dish that pairs wonderfully with the meal.
Gently remove the roasted veggies and place them in a serving dish. Pour the remaining juices from the pan over them. Oh my goodness, you won’t believe the depth of deliciousness this adds.
Tip #7 – Slice the Leg of Lamb against the grain
The proper way to slice any meat including this Leg of Lamb is to cut against the grain. The “grain” is the muscle fibers that run through the meat. When you cut across the grain (not parallel) it shortens those tough fibers. This ends up doing most of the hard work of chewing for you. Therefore it creates a more tender and juicer bite. Otherwise, the meat can be tough and more difficult to eat.
This Roasted Leg of Lamb with Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives will be a crowning display of beauty on your table. It’s also melt-in-your-mouth tender and infused with flavor that I can’t even describe. You never have to disclose how easy this gorgeous entree is. Last night I made this recipe and I’m still savoring the flavors today. Thank goodness I have leftovers. I added a side salad and quinoa to the dish and it made for a perfectly splendid meal.
If you like elegant entrées, you will love these:Print
Roasted Leg of Lamb with Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives
This Roasted Leg of Lamb with Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives is an elegant entree for your table. Minced garlic, herbs, and spices add depth of flavor to this tender meat. This dish will prove to be the crowning display of beauty at your next dinner party.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes (without tying time)
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
- Category: Meat
- Method: Roasting
- Cuisine: Leg of Lamb
- 5–7 pounds boneless Leg of Lamb, rolled and tied
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil, divided
- 6 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Herb de Provence
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Thyme, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, chopped
- 2 teaspoon Kosher Salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
- 2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 12–14 large Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 heaping cup Kalamata Olives
- 2 Sweet Onions, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
- 2 Lemons, quartered
- 1 cup Dry White Wine
- Pull the leg of lamb from the refrigerator and let it sit out for about an hour before it is ready to go into the oven.
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Pat the lamb dry with paper towels and smear 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on all sides.
- Combine 6 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon each of Herb de Provence, fresh rosemary and thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons ground cumin and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Rub the mixture on all sides of the lamb. Place the lamb in a large roasting pan (do not cover it with foil) and cook for 15 minutes in the 450°F oven to get a nice sear.
- Pull the roast out of the oven and scatter the12-14 large cherry tomatoes (halved), 2 sweet onion wedges, heaping cup kalamata olives, and 2lemons (quartered) around the roast. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt on the veggies. Pour in 1 cup dry white wine.
- Turn the oven down to 325°F and continue to cook for 40-50 minutes. Because of oven temperature variations and different weights of the lamb, time is not the best indicator for a perfectly cooked roast. An instant-read thermometer will give an accurate internal temperature. Rare should read 120-125°F, Medium-Rare 130-135°F, Medium 140-145°F.
- When done, pull the pan from the oven, place the roast on a meat cutting board, cover with foil and let rest for 15-20 minutes.
- Using scissors, cut the string or netting, remove and discard. Slice the lamb against the grain.
- Spoon the vegetables into a serving bowl, add pan juices and squeeze the lemon wedges over them. Serve with the lamb.
- Remove the lamb from the refrigerator at least an hour before you throw it in the oven bringing it to room temperature. This lets the meat relax and its natural juices reabsorb into the muscles. Taking the chill off of the meat will cut down on your cooking time and ensure the lamb is cooked evenly throughout.
- Trussing is simply tying the meat with butcher twine (cotton kitchen string) which holds everything tightly in place and helps the lamb cook more uniformly. Check this youtube video out which takes you step by step in this process.
- Marinating is usually left for tougher pieces of meat. And because lamb is naturally tender, there is no value in using a marinade. The fibers of the meat can be broken down too much with marinating, causing the texture to become mushy and mealy.
- So for this recipe, I went with a rub, which makes this meat incredibly flavorful. It consists of minced garlic, spices, and herbs. It’s honestly the perfect enhancement for this lamb.
- Searing the meat locks in the juices before you ever start roasting. When you sear, the natural sugars caramelize and the rub gets crispy which creates a lovely brown crust on the surface.
- Time is not the best indicator for a perfectly cooked roast. It’s best to invest in an instant-read thermometer for an accurate read on when a roast is done.
- Probably the most important part of cooking any type of meat is the “resting time” once it comes out of the oven. The juices need time to redistribute back into the meat. If you cut into it too soon, all those lovely juices just seep right on out.
- Once it’s out of the oven, remove the meat from the pan and tent a large piece of foil over the meat and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
- The proper way to slice any meat including this Leg of Lamb is to cut it against the grain. The “grain” is the muscle fibers that run through the meat. When you cut across the grain (not parallel) it shortens those tough fibers.
- Serving Size: 6 ounces of Lamb
- Calories: 529
- Sugar: 8 g
- Sodium: 364 mg
- Fat: 35 g
- Saturated Fat: 16 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 3 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 7 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 43 g
- Cholesterol: 170 mg