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Second Helpings

After the Fire, the Sandwich

September 18, 2002|DIANE MORGAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Leg of lamb never tastes better than when it is marinated, crusted with herbs and grilled medium-rare. For a terrific dinner for six, plus enough leftovers for a weeknight sandwich supper, buy a 3 1/2-to 4-pound boned and butterflied leg of lamb. Grill it one day, enjoy these sandwiches the next.

To make the marinade, mince 6 large cloves of garlic and mix with 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of freshly ground pepper. Pour the marinade over the lamb and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Just before grilling, remove the lamb from the marinade and coat one side with 1/4 cup dried oregano and the other side with 1/4 cup crushed dried rosemary.

For grilled-to-perfection lamb, grill over a medium-hot fire, covered, for about 15 minutes per side. You can slice and peek to check for doneness, but I'm a big fan of instant-read thermometers. Medium-rare is 120 to 130 degrees.

Morgan is co-author of "Dressed to Grill: Savvy Recipes for Girls Who Play With Fire," (Chronicle Books, $16.95).

As a time saver, use roasted red peppers available in jars at well-stocked supermarkets. Blot dry with a paper towel before slicing.

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Grilled Lamb and Pita Sandwiches With Yogurt-Mint Sauce

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 25 minutes

2 red bell peppers, cored and quartered

4 pita breads, halved

1 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup mayonnaise

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 large English cucumber

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 pound grilled leg of lamb, thinly sliced, then cut into thin strips

Heat the broiler. Place the peppers on a rimmed baking sheet skin-side-up. Broil until the skin is blackened, 8 to 10 minutes. Wrap in damp paper towels and set aside while you make the sauce. Turn the oven to 250 degrees. Wrap the pitas in foil and warm in the oven.

Meanwhile, combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice in a bowl. Trim the ends of the cucumber. Use the coarse side of a box grater to grate about 1/3 of the cucumber, including the peel. Without packing it, measure 1 cup. Grate more if needed. Mix the grated cucumber, mint and salt into the yogurt mixture. Add pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cut the rest of the cucumber into 2-inch-long matchsticks. Scrape the skin off the peppers and cut into thin strips. Mix the cucumber, peppers and lamb in a large bowl. Add 2/3 cup of the sauce and gently mix. Fill each pita half and serve immediately. Serve the sandwiches with crudites (raw veggies), using the extra sauce as a dip.

4 servings. Each serving: 602 calories; 806 mg sodium; 117 mg cholesterol; 32 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 43 grams carbohydrates; 35 grams protein; 2.87 grams fiber.

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