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At Cooking by the Book, Suzen has surrendered. There are just some dishes that she cannot get her corporate clients to eat. Guests come here, cook together in our large kitchen, and dine on their own creations. People will just not eat Bambi.

Not here, but they do in Ireland. And not just in the springtime. In her lovely book Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen, Clodagh McKenna suggests pairing summer lamb with summer fruit. For her, sweet, roasted nectarines are the perfect match for lamb in any style. And, thinking in terms of multi-purposing, these nectarines can become dessert: served with mascarpone or whipped cream or ice cream or atop pound cake.

One Irish note to this recipe is the use of apple syrup, the Highbank Orchard Syrup, described as Ireland’s apple alternative to maple syrup. If your local grocery does not carry this very Irish product, you can go the American route and employ maple syrup. [I’ve contacted Highbank and I’ll see if there is a way to go Irish in NYC!]

The combination of fruit and sweetness here make this a lovely summer meal, no matter high the temperature.

Summer Lamb with Fennel and Roasted Nectarines

Yield: serves 4


For the lamb:

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ½ sprig of rosemary, finely chopped, plus more to serve
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 thick lamb cutlets (about 3 ½ ounces each)

For the nectarines:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon Highbank Orchard syrup or good- quality maple syrup
  • 2 nectarines, halved and pitted

For the salad:

  • 1 head baby romaine lettuce, leaves separated and coarsely torn
  • 1 ½ cups loosely packed mixed salad greens
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard


Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a skillet, dry-roast the fennel seeds over medium heat for 30 seconds, then finely chop. Place in a large bowl, along with the rosemary, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Add the lamb cutlets to the bowl and toss to coat, then let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Prepare the nectarines: In a small saucepan, melt the butter and syrup together over low heat and stir. Place the nectarines on the foil-lined sheet and drizzle with the syrup mixture. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until tender.

Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the lamb cutlets, turning once, until charred and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Just before serving, scatter with extra rosemary.

Make the herb salad: In a large bowl, combine the salad greens in a small bowl, beat together the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and mustard to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper, drizzle over the salad, and toss to coat. Serve with the lamb and sweet nectarines.

Source: Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna [Kyle, 2015], Photography by Tara Fisher