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Harissa-Rubbed Roast Boneless Leg of Lamb with Warm Cauliflower Salad

Why This Recipe Works

The robust, fragrant flavor profile of North African cuisine is another perfect pairing with rich, meaty lamb. We again took advantage of the broad surface area of a boneless leg of lamb by rubbing it with Tunisian-inspired harissa paste. We bloomed paprika, coriander, Aleppo pepper, cumin, caraway, and garlic in oil in the microwave and applied our quick homemade harissa to the inside of the leg before rolling it up and tying it to make a compact roast. We seared the exterior of the meat on all sides to build up some browning before moving the lamb to the oven where it finished roasting to a juicy medium-rare. We also applied more of the harissa to the outside of the roast in between the two cooking steps. Then, to keep the flavorful fat and fond from going to waste, we prepared a quick vegetable side while the roast rested by tossing cauliflower florets with the pan drippings and roasting them until they were tender and browned. Combining the warm cauliflower with shredded carrots, sweet raisins, cilantro, and toasted almonds produced a side that paired perfectly with the fragrant, richly spiced lamb.

Serves 6 to 8

If you can’t find Aleppo pepper, you can substitute ¾ teaspoon paprika and ¾ teaspoon finely chopped red pepper flakes. Leg of lamb is often sold in elastic netting that must be removed. We prefer this roast cooked to medium-rare.

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground dried Aleppo pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon caraway seeds Salt and pepper
1 (3½- to 4-pound) boneless half leg of lamb, trimmed, and pounded to ¾-inch thickness
1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cored and cut into 1‐inch florets
½ red onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup raisins
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning

1. Combine 6 tablespoons oil, garlic, paprika, coriander, Aleppo pepper, cumin, caraway seeds, and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl and microwave until bubbling and very fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring halfway through microwaving. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Set V-rack in large roasting pan and spray with vegetable oil spray. Lay roast on cutting board with rough interior side (which was against bone) facing up and rub with 2 tablespoons spice paste. Roll roast and tie with kitchen twine at 1½-inch intervals, then rub exterior with 1 tablespoon oil.

3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown lamb on all sides, about 8 minutes. Brush lamb all over with remaining spice paste and place fat side down in prepared V-rack. Roast until thickest part registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), flipping lamb halfway through roasting. Transfer lamb to carving board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest while making salad.

4. Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees. Pour all but 3 tablespoons fat from pan; discard any charred drippings. Add cauliflower, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper to pan and toss to coat. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until cauliflower is softened, about 5 minutes.

5. Remove foil and spread onion evenly over cauliflower. Roast until vegetables are tender and cauliflower is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting. Transfer vegetable mixture to serving bowl, add carrots, raisins, cilantro, almonds, and lemon juice and toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Slice leg of lamb into ½-inch-thick slices and serve with salad.


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