The flavours of the Middle East resonate with the Australian summer. Mint, figs, pomegranate, cumin, and thyme. This dish is packed with flavour and can be easily cooked in a BBQ with a lid. Just remember to cook it fast to get the golden-brown crust and then low and slow to make the meat inside lip-smackingly tender. This will feed a big family get-together, and you can stretch out the numbers by making more couscous salad.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients 

Lamb

  • 1.5-2kg lamb shoulder

  • Olive oil

  • Salt

  • 2 tbsp za’atar

  • 1 tsp cumin

Couscous Salad

  • 500g couscous

  • 1 stock cube

  • 500ml boiling water

  • 2 bunches parsley, leaves only, chopped

  • 1 bunch mint, leaves only, chopped

  • 100g dried cranberries or currants

  • 100g flaked almonds

  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves

Dressing 

  • 125g tahini paste

  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil

  • 50ml lemon juice

  • Salt and pepper

  • 6 figs, sliced*

  • 70ml pomegranate molasses

  • Extra parsley leaves to decorate

Method 

Preheat the oven to 240ºC. Place the lamb on a roasting tray and rub with oil, salt, and the za’atar and cumin. Place the lamb in the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until the skin begins to brown. Reduce the heat to 140ºC, cover with foil and continue to cook for a further 4-5 hours or until the meat comes off the bone.

Meanwhile make the salad by putting the couscous in a large, pre-warmed bowl. Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Mix well. Let stand for 10-15 minutes until cool. Add the other ingredients and mix through. Cover and chill.

Make the dressing by putting the remaining ingredients, except the pomegranate and parsley, in a large jar and shaking well to mix into a thick creamy dressing. (If the tahini is too thick, add a little hot water). Chill.

When the lamb is done, and you’re ready to serve, cover a very large serving platter with the couscous salad. If there is salad leftover, serve this from another bowl. Place the lamb shoulder on the couscous. Separate the fat from the cooking juices and pour the cooking juices over the lamb. Dress the couscous with the tahini dressing, drizzle with the pomegranate molasses and dress with parsley and sliced figs. Carve and serve at the table.

*You can also use fresh pomegranate seeds instead of figs. Simply scatter over salad at the end with parsley.

About the author

Cornish Richard
Richard Cornish
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Richard Cornish is an award winning food writer whose love of the land lead him to explore the issues around food, where it comes from, how it gets to us and why some foods taste better than others. He writes for The Age, SMH, DMT Life and has written eight cook books including co-writing the Movida series with Frank Camorra.