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Vegetarian accompaniment to leg of lamb?

We are celebrating a birthday with friends later this week, and the main course will be roasted leg of lamb. I am the lone vegetarian in the group, but my friend is quite understanding and told me to bring anything I wanted to "supplement" for myself. There will be a few vegetable sides (green beans, potatoes), but I do think I need to being something so I don't eat all the green beans!

I was initially thinking of something like cous cous with roasted veggies and chickpeas, because "lamb" and "Mediterranean" seem complimentary to me (I don't have a lot of experience with lamb). But, given what's she's preparing, I don't know if this will seem out of place. Can anyone comment on that, and/or make suggestions on what would be a better dish to bring?

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  1. your friend is understanding in"letting" you bring something? S/he could at least make darn sure there are enough veggies to serve as your main course!
    anyway, your couscous idea seems good to me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: magiesmom

      As this is a birthday dinner she's preparing for her husband, and I am the only one with an issue that prevents me from eating his favorite meal, I do find it very understanding to let me "crash" their party with my own food and don't think she should be focused on making lots of extra dishes just for me when everyone else is happy with the primary meal. I'm often the only vegetarian in group eating, and I don't like to have other people feel put out by my eating decisions. I have absolutely no problem prepping/bringing my own food, which is why I always offer to bring something extra.

    2. Couscous goes with lamb, but they are cooked together, with vegetables. Also, your host is serving potatoes. Ask your host if the potatoes will be vegetarian or roasted with the lamb fat (preferable for everyone but you) and, if so, make some Italian-style roast potatoes -- cut in largish dice and roasted with olive oil, garlic, and fresh rosemary (there is actually a pretty good recipe somewhere on Chowhound). Make enough for the others because they are fabulous with roast lamb. Then, I always serve sauteed artichoke wedges with roast lamb, or even lamb chops. You have to trim the artichokes painstakingly in the Roman way, which I can explain if you decide to take this further, then cut in wedges (at which point the choke is easy to remove). Put the wedges in a pan with oil, sprinkle with salt, cover and turn up the heat till they start to sizzle, then lower the heat immediately and cook very gently till tender. You probably don't need any water, but keep an eye on them and at teensy bits at a time if needed.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mbfant

        I like the idea but don't think I'm going to find any fresh artichokes here. Thanks for the suggestion though.

      2. What you are suggesting sounds reasonable, but why not ask the host if it sounds ok too? That way there's no guesswork. If she or he gives it the ok, you could also bring a simple yoghurt salad (something tzatziki-ish or maybe even just yoghurt with garlic and mint) to go with it (so you're not just eating dry couscous - of course couscous dishes are nice but they call out for a moist accompaniment, IMO!), which would also be nice for the others to have with lamb.

        I definitely think you want something with some kind of pulse like chickpeas, white beans, etc. so that you have something a bit more substantial than just veg to eat.

        1. You could bring some pita bread along with the tzatziki, then you could make veggie sandwiches and the others could make gyros if they wished.

          Also quinoa would be a fun addition, I make it with feta, cucumbers, tomatoes and olives, and a Greek style dressing. That would go with lamb, to me anyway.

          1. What about some kind of eggplant casserole?

            3 Replies
            1. re: wyogal

              My thought exactly,

              I think it would be optimal to have a hearty dish that can be served as one component rather than something like a cous-cous, which is generally topped with something other (like roasted veggies). But either way, deliciousness awaits.

              Another idea: frittata/Spanish omelet, or quiche.

              I agree with those who suggest communications with the host, who might step up and do something his- or herself, too.

              1. re: Bada Bing

                Thanks for the eggplant suggestions! I don't know why I didn't think of that. I'm thinking I can do an eggplant rollitini type thing, which will veer a little more in the Italian direction, but I think that is ok.

                Also, I definitely will communicate with the hosts, they eat everything so it's really just about me having something I can eat.

              2. re: wyogal

                Before I even read this thread, for some reason I thought ratatouille-- or something along those lines.

              3. This made me think of the vegetarian lentil moussaka recipe that I used to make. Unfortunately, I don't have the recipe but it was along the lines of this:

                http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddri...

                It was very tasty and would pair well with leg of lamb.

                1. I think you've received some great suggestions from others already, but thought I might add roasted stuffed red peppers. Hearty, pretty, and might fit a Mediterranean theme. :)

                  1. The OP indicates that the omnivores' meal is going to include potatoes and green beans. Great accompaniments to roast lamb but not , to me, suggesting "eastern Mediterranean/north African". As such the couscous idea might not fit in too well. That said, I would be very happy to eat a meal of couscous with roasted veg and chickpeas (and often do).

                    Seeing as this is intended to be the "main event" for the OP, perhaps the answer lies in what the OP might usually like to eat with potatoes and green beans.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Harters

                      Thanks, I think you really hit on the heart of my question. Since I have virtually no experience cooking or eating a large roast of meat, I really don't know what a typical/complementary side would be.

                      The only time I really recall seeing lamb in a dish is on the menu of a Greek or Lebanese restaurant, which is why my mind immediately went to something "Mediterranean." But I think you're right that my friend is probably not preparing it with the spices/herbs that would be typical of this region.

                      I think the eggplant suggestion above is my best bet, as you're right, I will enjoy it with the other sides, and it shouldn't interfere with the main course for those who want a taste too.

                      1. Farro pilaf or salad? Rye berries are also good in a salad and very hearty.
                        Ratatouille?
                        A vegetable tart would also be nice, perhaps something that could be served at room temp, or a savory bread pudding.

                        1. Lentil, lentil, lentil! Salad of the teeny le puy ones, perhaps with some walnuts, feta, roasted carrots.

                          1. Made a leg of lamb last night and served with a fennel, cream, and parmigiano reggiano gratin, worked very well.

                            1. Ina Garten's Provencal Great Northern Beans (she serves them with lamb, and they're as good/better than the lamb) are really nice; I've cooked them with mushroom/vegetable stock in lieu of chicken stock, and they're still great. Recipe below.

                              http://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/...

                              1. Some suggestions in random order ...

                                1. Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta and Olives
                                2. Couscous
                                3. Sautéed Broccoli di Rapa
                                4. Olive Bread
                                5. Tomato, Cucumber, Red Onion, and Feta Salad

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Cheese Boy

                                  You could make a panzanella that would be awesome.

                                2. If you're thinking a couscous salad, swapping the pasta for quinoa would add protein and make your dish heartier. Eggplant is also a terrific match with lamb, so I second those recommendations.

                                  1. Just want to say thanks for the many great suggestions here, from the quinoa to the Great Northern beans. I think I have settled on something where eggplant plays the starring role, but I'm sure some of these other ideas will make it into other weeknight suppers in the near future. I will report back!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: erin_grogan

                                      If you are going to do eggplant the Italian Caponata might be a good idea. I also think the suggestion above for a farro salad would be nice if you want something more filling.

                                    2. Just wanted to thank everyone again for their suggestions. I decided on eggplant rollitini (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gi...) which went well with the rest of the meal.

                                      I modified the recipe by also adding green olives and raisins to the filling, which worked well. I actually didn't love the pine nuts in there though- they tasted odd and overpowering. Not sure if it's because I had to buy them from the mega-mart bulk bin when I realized at the last minute I didn't have any; probably not the highest quality. Overall though, I think it was a tasty dish (and the non-vegetarians enjoyed it too).

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: erin_grogan

                                        The combination of olives, raisins and eggplant strikes me as a very Sicilian touch. As for the pine nuts, I often substitute walnuts, pistachios or slivered almonds in recipes where pine nuts are called for and they usually work fine.

                                      2. Wow, some fabulous suggestions so far! Spring time always makes me think of a wilted lettuce salad.. Assorted spring greens tossed with green onions and hot buttermilk/ or vinegar dressing (topped with roasted nuts and veggie bacon). Or maybe a nice spring fruit salad w/a honey-poppy seed dressing. These are not really main dish foods, but could be great along side some of the other suggestions other folks have had. Plus, even the non-veggies, I think, would enjoy these! :)