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Lamb baked on a bed of spring onions and garlic

1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 leg of lamb, fat trimmed, bone in, 7 to 8 pounds
3 pounds spring onions or scallions, trimmed, leaving as much green as possible
15 fresh green garlic stalks or 8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with chef's knife
3 bags (10 ounces each) pre-washed fresh spinach
1 cup snipped fresh dill
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In medium bowl, whisk 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 cup lemon juice, water and salt and pepper to taste. Put lamb in large bowl or pan; pour marinade over and turn to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning 2 or 3 times.

Meanwhile, cut stalks of both spring onions (or scallions) and fresh garlic in half crosswise, where the green starts. Cut white parts in half lengthwise. In batches, coarsely chop spinach.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil roasting pan large enough to hold lamb (don't put lamb in pan yet).

Heat1/4 cup oil over medium heat in large deep skillet or Dutch oven. In batches, add spinach, and cook, stirring until wilted, about 5 minutes total.

Transfer spinach to roasting pan. Add spring onions or scallions, garlic greens or garlic cloves, dill, parsley, remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil and remaining 1/2 cup lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with hands or two spoons until evenly mixed. (It will look like too many vegetables, but it's not.)

Place lamb on vegetables. Pour marinade over lamb. Roast until lamb browns lightly, 40 to 50 minutes, turning vegetables in juices so they don't burn.

Cover pan with foil. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Bake until lamb is tender but still slightly pink, about 145 degrees, 45 to 50 minutes more. Add a little water to vegetables if necessary to keep them moist.

Remove from oven; let rest 20 minutes. Carve lamb. Spoon vegetables and pan juices around lamb on large serving platter, or serve vegetables from separate dish. Serves 8 with leftovers.

Adapted from "The Glorious Foods of Greece" by Diane Kochilas

Thursday, March 21, 2002

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