Lamb with Brown Rice and Apricots

OK folks, here is a recipe you can actually feel good about eating. Truthfully, I rarely feel guilty about eating any food as long as I stick to my once a month rule on the really rich or really fatty stuff but, this one is just downright tasty and HEALTHY. The lamb, rice and nuts provide magnesium and dried fruits such as apricots provide boron, an essential elements for healthy bones and teeth. So nosh away on this baby often and be guilt free.

The earliest records that mention dried fruits can be found in Mesopotamian tablets dating to about 1700 B.C. These writings are the oldest known written recipes. The clay slabs are written in Akkadian, the daily language of Babylonia and tell of diets based in grains such as barley, millet, wheat and of vegetables and fruits such as dates, figs, apples, pomegranates, and grapes. Many of the fruits were often dried and kept to be consumed during drought season or used in recipes with meat.

Dried fruit was a must especially in ancient Rome were books were written for housekeepers explaining the necessity: “She must keep a supply of cooked food on hand for you and the servants. She must keep many hens and have plenty of eggs. She must have a large store of dried pears, sorbs, figs, raisins, sorbs in must, preserved pears and grapes and quinces. She must also keep preserved grapes in grape-pulp and in pots buried in the ground, as well as fresh Praenestine nuts kept in the same way, and Scantian quinces in jars, and other fruits that are usually preserved, as well as wild fruits. All these she must store away diligently every year.”

Today, dried fruit is available almost everywhere and produced in most regions around the world. It’s consumption occurs in all cultures and demographic segments. American consumers in 2006, ate an average of 2.18 pounds of dried fruit. Raisins account for about two thirds of the annual consumption. California produces the largest percentage of the US and the world’s dried fruit crop: over 99% raisins and dried plums, 98% of dried figs, 96% of dried peaches, 92% of apricots and over 90% of dates.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients 

1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 pound lamb, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 tsp corriander, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup red wine
sea salt
black pepper
1 1/2 cups dried apricots
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Directions

Heat pan and add olive oil. Place lamb in hot oil and cook until browned all over. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion, peppers, garlic, and ginger and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spices and cook for another minute or two. Return lamb to the pan, add rice, stock and wine. Cover pan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Fold in nuts and spoon onto serving dish.

Yield 2 to 3 servings.

FOOTNOTE: Variations on this recipe could include replacing apricots with large raisins and almonds with walnuts or cashews.