Are you ready for an Italian Spring Break? Begin by changing your mind set with a new attitude and create a lifestyle that values beauty, art, culture, good food and wine. Spring foods in Italy include spring peas (primavera piselli), asparagus (asparagi), fava beans and spring lamb (agnello) and artichokes (carciofi). You’ve never eaten artichokes Italian style! Carts loaded with artichokes appear at the outdoor markets all over Rome in springtime. Their long stems and leaves are still attached, which helps to keep them from drying out. Italian cooks know that the stems are as tasty as the artichoke hearts. They only need peeling and can be cooked right alongside the artichokes. Take an Italian Spring Break at home by preparing agnello al forno con patate arrosto (Spring Leg of Lamb roasted with Potatoes and fresh rosemary) and Braised Artichokes paired with a Valpolicella from the Veneto region of Italy.
To prepare Arrosto di Agnello, or Roast Leg of Lamb you will need
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 cloves of garlic
coarsely ground black pepper and salt
one leg of lamb at room temperature
1/2 cup extra olive oil
few drops of wine vinegar
PREHEAT oven to 450 degrees F.
STRIP the leaves from the sprigs of rosemary. Chop 1 sprig of rosemary and garlic into small pieces, combining the ingredients. Mix with a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Make cuts here and there over the leg of lamb and stuff with the garlic mixture.
ANOINT the lamb well with good extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle on more coarse salt and pepper. Put the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and place in a hot oven to sear the meat (20 – 30 min), lower the heat to 375 degrees to cook the lamb through (1 – 1.5 hours). BASTE occasionally with extra virgin olive oil which you can brush on with the other sprig of rosemary and once or twice sprinkle on a few drops of wine vinegar. If your oven has a revolving spit then use that instead of the rack and pan. NOTE: Tuscans like their lamb to be well cooked with a crusty salty exterior. They do not carve the lamb into slices but break it into large chunks.