Feeding a big crowd at the holidays is often a challenge. Scaling up quantities can reduce the quality of your food and keeping everyone happy is always difficult. What I’ve learned is that you can generally make your guests love your food by incorporating basil, olive oil and lamb to make a delicious dish. Here’s our recipe for Leg of Lamb with Mint Pesto. It’s highly recommended for the holidays.

  • 1/3 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or balsamic)
  • 1 leg of lamb, bone-in, or boneless, rolled and tied
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered or halved
  • 12 ounces baby carrots, trimmed, peeled

Finely chop nuts and garlic in a food processor. Add mint leaves and basil and puree. Add oil and vinegar and blend until pesto is smooth. Trim any excess fat from lamb (leave a thin layer). Place lamb in a large roasting pan. Make several slits in lamb with the tip of a small sharp knife. Reserve 1/2 cup pesto for vegetables. Spoon some pesto into each slit; rub remainder into lamb. Sprinkle lamb generously with salt and pepper. Let stand at least one hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roast lamb 45 minutes. Add potatoes to pan and turn to coat in pan juices. Roast 30 minutes. Add carrots and reserved 1/2 cup pesto and turn to coat carrots and potatoes in pesto and pan juices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue roasting until thermometer inserted into thickest part of lamb registers 140°F. for medium-rare, about 45 minutes longer.  Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes (always allow your meat to rest!).

Carve lamb into thin slices. Arrange on plates with potatoes and carrots. Garnish with fresh mint leaves. Serves 6-8.

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