Hot harissa lamb in pitta pouches

About this recipe: Warm pitta bread stuffed with spicy lamb and crisp salad makes a quick and tasty light lunch. In this North African-style recipe, lean lamb is stir-fried with garlic, ginger, harissa and mint for an exciting authentic flavour.

Norma MacMillan

Ingredients

Serves: 4 

  • 4 wholemeal pitta breads
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400 g (14 oz) boneless leg of lamb or neck fillet, trimmed of fat and thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 2 tsp harissa (hot chilli sauce)
  • 4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint or coriander, or to taste
  • 4 tbsp plain low-fat yogurt
  • Cucumber salad
  • 100 g (3½ oz) crisp green salad leaves, shredded
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 7.5 cm (3 in) piece cucumber, diced
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • salt and pepper

Method

Prep:20min  ›  Cook:10min  ›  Ready in:30min 

  1. First prepare the salad and pitta. Combine the salad leaves, red onion and cucumber in a bowl. Sprinkle over the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste and toss together. Using a sharp knife, split the pitta breads open down one side to make pouches. Set the salad and pitta aside.
  2. Preheat the grill to high. Heat a wok or heavy-based frying pan until really hot, then add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the lamb, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for 4–5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the harissa and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low and keep the lamb warm.
  3. Place the pitta on the rack of the grill pan and grill for 1 minute on each side or until warm. Meanwhile, increase the heat under the lamb, add the mint or coriander and toss together.
  4. Divide the lamb and salad among the warmed pitta pouches, top each serving with 1 tbsp yogurt and serve immediately.

Some more ideas

If you can't get North African harissa, use another chilli sauce, or a few drops of Tabasco sauce. Or, if you think these may be too spicy, use 2 tsp sun-dried tomato paste instead. * Chickpeas are a great addition to these pouches. Use only 250 g (8 1/2 oz) lamb and add a can of chickpeas, about 400 g, drained and rinsed, with the harissa in step 2. Alternatively, for a vegetarian version, omit the lamb altogether and stir-fry the garlic and ginger with the chickpeas, then add the harissa and mint. Spread the insides of the pittas with hummus before putting in the filling. * In place of pitta bread, wrap the lamb and salad in warmed flour tortillas or Californian flat bread. To warm these, wrap them, stacked together, in foil and heat in a 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4) oven for 4–5 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.

Plus points

Each 100 g (3 1/2 oz) serving of lamb provides over 50% of the adult RNI for zinc, a mineral that is vital for normal growth, reproduction and immunity. Zinc is also involved in the release of insulin from the pancreas, which controls blood sugar levels. * Weight for weight, wholemeal pitta bread contains more than twice as much fibre as white pitta, and also provides higher levels of B vitamins. * Sprinkling the salad with lemon juice not only adds a fresh, zingy flavour but also boosts the vitamin C content of this dish. With the natural fat in the lamb, there is no need to use an oily dressing.

Each serving provides

B1, B6, B12, E, niacin, zinc * C, folate, iron * B2, calcium, potassium

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