As I sat on the train this morning, open book in hand, vaguely looking out of the window at the commuters on the platform of the station we’d just pulled into, I was suddenly struck by the sound of birds singing brightly and proudly. As the doors slammed shut and the train pulled away, onwards to the grey concrete city of London, the sound of those birds stayed with me, making me feel light and happy, and I walked to the office with a spring in my step. But by midday I was starting to flag and my step was losing its bounce. The day in the office was dull and uneventful and I soon found myself willing the hours away. I left feeling flat and a little melancholy.
What I needed tonight was a meal full of the joys of spring that would require no more effort than some whizzing of the food processor, some heating of pans and some laying of salad leaves. Tender lamb cutlets, juicy British asparagus, fresh herbs, and peppery watercress were all the ingredients I needed. I turned them into a fresh and bright salad to lift my spirits.
As I sit here writing to you with my back door wide open I feel carefree once again as I listen to a chorus of birds bringing the gardens of these suburban terraced houses alive this evening with their songs. A reminder that it really is the simple things in life that bring us the most happiness.
Herb-Crusted Lamb Cutlets with an Asparagus and Watercress Salad
The herby breadcrumb mixture on the little lamb cutlets was really lovely so I think next time I’ll coat the whole of the cutlets in it. I imagine that brushing the entire cutlet with mustard would be too overpowering so I’d use a beaten egg to dip them in instead, before coating them with the breadcrumbs. Perhaps if you decide to try it this way and beat me to it you could let me know what you think?
For the lamb
A couple of handfuls of white breadcrumbs, or a slice of white bread
A handful of basil and oregano
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 lamb cutlets
Sea salt and black pepper
For the salad
2 handfuls of watercress
12 asparagus spears
Extra virgin olive oil
Place the breadcrumbs and herbs into a food processor and blend them together. If you haven’t got any breadcrumbs simply whizz up a slice of (preferably stale) bread with the herbs in the processor.
Cut any excess fat from the tops of the lamb cutlets and then brush the tops of them with Dijon mustard. Press a generous amount of herby breadcrumbs onto the mustard to coat the tops of the cutlets with them.
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the lamb cutlets and fry them for 2-3 minutes each side.
While the lamb is cooking bring a pan large enough to hold the asparagus to the boil. Snap the woody ends ends off the asparagus then add the spears to the boiling water. Simmer them for 3 minutes then remove them and set them aside.
When the lamb cutlets have finished cooking remove them from the pan and put them onto kitchen oil to drain and rest while you prepare the salad.
Put the watercress onto plates and then place 6 spears of asparagus on top of each plate of watercress. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and then place 2 lamb cutlets onto each salad.