Braised Lamb ShawarmaLet me say that the April/May 2013 issue of Fine Cooking magazine is full of recipes I want to make. This magazine is sharp about pacing a recipe and illustrating every point, while being calm and approachable. It’s an especially inspirational issue -- so much, in fact, that it convinced me to try “Braised Lamb Shawarma,” which I’ve never made nor eaten. The “scrumptious sandwiches” are “easy to assemble,” it tells me. And sure, I can go out and buy pomegranate molasses and tahini! Let’s do it!

Set aside an afternoon for prep and cooking. I used lamb shanks instead of chops, so they needed more time to brown in the skillet and needed 2 hours in the oven to be fork-tender. I added extra water to their braising bath, so that it could reach halfway up the shanks in the pan. My wine was a chenin blanc. Notice how braising lamb is a hands-off process.

It’s easy to mix the garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, and tahini into a sauce: a pleasant lemony sauce.

The pickled cabbage is also simple; red cabbage never needs much. I used red wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar.

Because my lamb-braising sauce was so thin (the extra water), it took much longer than 10 minutes to reduce. To the shredded lamb and its own pomegranate molasses/lemon/butter sauce, I added 2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper.

Indeed, I defaulted to flour tortillas, here. I did brown them in a dry skillet, before rolling my sandwiches. Tangy lamb, sweet and crunchy cabbage, tart tahini. The tortilla roll was ample and filling: a triumph.

Snap Pea & Quinoa SaladAnd speaking of “easy to assemble”…

…I also put together the “Snap Pea & Quinoa Salad,” from the April 2013 issue of Eating Well. Only the quinoa needed to be cooked; everything else was raw -- the snap peas are snappy, the red onions, the dill.

And cooked quinoa -- I dare admit -- is preferable at room temperature or even cooled, in a salad such as this one. I added 2 tsp. kosher salt to the finished salad.

Lamb Shanks (2.9 lbs.) = $21.37
Carrot (1) = $1.01
Onion (1) = .48¢
Whole-Milk Greek Yogurt (1/2 cup) = $1.30
Snap Peas (2 cups) = $2.23
Button Mushrooms (1 1/2 cups) = $1.76

PREP TIMES: shawarma needs an afternoon of browning and braising and cooking and assembly; quinoa cooks in 15 minutes, raw veggies need to be chopped, lemon needs to be zested
ample tortilla rolls feature tangy lamb, sweet/crunchy cabbage, tart tahini, where lemony flavor prevails; the quinoa salad showcases everything that’s great about snap peas, red onion, and dill, dressed in vinegar, oil, lemon, and a surprise balance from maple syrup

Next time, I’ll stay with the fabulous April/May 2013 issue of Fine Cooking, and make the “Sweet and Spicy Sesame Chicken Kebabs.” Come back to my site next week, to see what happens.