Seared Lamb Sirloin, Spiced Butternut Squash, Warm Potato & Kale Salad with Balsamic and Tangelo Reduction
Once in a while I like to write about composed plates. This is how I like to cook when I have the time and resources. I have a mentality around composed dinners that involves 4 main components. The ingredients used will vary depending on the season and what looks good when I go shopping but the format of the entree follows this general structure – puree, salad, protein and sauce.
I like this format for a number of reasons but a big one is that it’s very vegetable forward and as you are likely aware, a diet full of vegetables is important for general health. I break down the benefits of different vegetables often in my recipes and I’ll hit some key points for this dish as well. I also think that texturally, it’s important to have variety to please the palate. Textures like firm, crunchy, creamy, chewy and even watery can help a dish mature in composition of taste but also in presentation.
My goal in sharing this recipe is not just to help you replicate this dish but to help you open your mind to creating an infinite combination following this structure by using different purees, salads, proteins and sauces. Thinking about plate composition can be fun and you may surprise yourself with how certain things may compliment each other.
I’m using lamb sirloin in this recipe. While lamb is available in almost all Western grocery stores, it definitely takes a back seat to other meat proteins like beef, chicken, pork and fish, in terms of being recognized and marketed to consumers. “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner, “ and “pork, the other white meat” are marketing taglines I’m sure we’re all familiar with but what about lamb? Perhaps the lamb farming industry in North American is dwarfed by more common meats? Maybe due to perceived cost, people shy away from something unfamiliar? I can’t say for sure but personally, I love lamb and use it as steaks, ground, shanks, in rib racks and thinly sliced in Chinese hot pot or in Korean BBQ at home. It has tremendous flavor.
Lamb is a very high quality protein. It’s high in the vitamins that promote proper brain function and it’s high in iron and zinc. Iron is a crucial mineral that helps transport oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. It’s also good for your hair, nails and skin. Zinc helps your immune systems and a lack of zinc in your body makes you more susceptible to illness and infection.
I purchase lamb sirloin at my local grocery store in a package of 3 pieces and cook it as I would prepare a small steak. The main difference between a lamb steak and a beef steak, in my opinion, is that there really should only be one doneness level, so if you like your ribeye welldone, this probably isn’t the protein for you as overcooked lamb will be chewy and unpalatable.
I used butternut squash for this puree. I like to keep a variety of squash on hand at home because they will keep fresh for a long time but also because they have a variety of cooking applications. Butternut squash is full of vitamin C and is also very high in beta-carotene, the same pigment found in sweet potatoes, that gives the vegetable its color. Yellow and orange vegetables are proven to be helpful in he bodies fight against heart disease.
There’s a reason why you see kale in so many healthy recipes and on the menus at more health-minded restaurants as it quite possibly contains more nutrients than any vegetable on earth. Green leafy vegetables are the centerpiece of the vegetable universe and kale is hugely loaded with vitamins A, C and K. The lesser discussed vitamin K is needed to provide prothrombin which is used by the body for blood clotting. It also has been shown to improve memory in adults. I love this warm kale and potato salad as both vegetables are inexpensive and are rich in nutrients.
The balsamic vinegar pan sauce benefits your body by upping the enzymes that help breakdown and digest proteins. Balsamic vinegar also contains antioxidants that improve immunity and aid in proper blood circulation.
- 3 lamb sirloin steaks (about 6-8 ounces each)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
Spiced Butternut Squash Puree
- 1 butternut squash
- Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
Warm Potato and Kale Salad
- 1 ½ pounds baby potato (fingerling, yukon, purple)
- 2-3 cups kale – washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 lemon – zest and juice separated
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic – sliced
- 1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and pepper
Balsamic Vinegar and Tangelo reduction
- 2 cloves garlic – minced
- 2 Tbsp shallots – minced
- ¼ C good balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tangelo – juiced
Set your oven to 400 degrees.
Take the lamb out of the fridge to bring to room temperature.
Cut the squash in half and season the flat size with olive oil. Combine the spices and mix well then sprinkle all over the flat size of the squash. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and arrange the squash, flat side down on the sheet tray. Set your timer for 35 minutes and work on the other components.
Set a medium pot full of water to high heat. When the water comes to a boil, add about a Tbsp of salt and let it return to a boil. Cut the potatoes in half. If they are larger potatoes, cut them into quarters. Put the potatoes in the boiling water and cook until they are just fork tender – about 10-12 minutes.
In a medium bowl, add the cut kale and the lemon juice. Mix thoroughly with your hands. You should notice the kale start to change color.
Once the potatoes are fork tender, drain them and dry them off with a kitchen towel or paper towel.
Heat the canola oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the cooked potatoes , flat side down and cook undisturbed until they start to brown. Add the kale in lemon juice and cook until the kale wilts, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and kale and toss to combine. Top with the lemon zest.
The squash should be done now. Remove from the oven and turn over to scrape out the flesh from the squash. Put the squash directly into your blender and whiz on high speed. If the mixture is too thick, add some chicken stock or water until you achieve the desired consistency. I like to pass this mixture then through a mesh strainer to remove any lumps and to get to a very silky and smooth texture. After straining, taste and add salt if necessary. Keep warm in a small pot on the back of your stove.
To cook the lamb sirloin, heat up a cast iron on medium/high heat. When the pan is hot, add the canola oil. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and when the oil in the pan begins to smoke, add the lamb sirloins. Cook for 3 minutes then flip and cook another 2 minutes then remove from heat to rest and to make the pan sauce.
Lower the heat on the cast iron then add the shallots and garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds then add the balsamic vinegar and tangelo juice. Using a wood spoon, scrape off all the bits of fond from the bottom of the pan. There will be a lot of great flavor. Reduce the sauce by about half, It should be thick enough now to coat the back of a spoon. In French culinary, this consistency is called, “nappe”. Strain the sauce through another mesh strainer to remove the bits of garlic and shallot or if you prefer, leave them be for a more rustic sauce.
To plate, spoon about a quarter cup of puree on your serving plate. Top with a nice portion of the warm potato and kale salad and top with one piece of lamb sirloin. Using a spoon, drizzle the balsamic reduction around the plate.
Once you’ve mastered this technique, there are so many other ways to mix it up with different ingredients. I think you’ll find it fun to be creative with flavor profile combinations!