Among my tips for low sodium cooking, spices and herbs are one of the easiest to adopt and most fun to experiment with. They’re readily available and can transform a blah dish into a totally amazeballs, “what’s your secret” kind of dish.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the seemingly endless varieties of spice blends from Savory Spice Shop. Their seasonings are not necessarily salt-free, but many of them have little or no sodium. Two of my favorites are the California Citrus Rub and Barrier Reef, both are fantastic on a variety of meats, fish,and vegetables. I used the last of the California Citrus Rub blended with olive oil to roast a tray full of beets, carrots, and purple potatoes for a dinner party last week.
But, what I find to be unique to Savory Spice Shop, besides the high quality and reasonable prices, is that you can try out seasonings by purchasing a 1-ounce packages or small jar. Throwing barely used jars of herbs and spices out after 6 months to a year has always been hard for me – but that’s the rule for maintaining freshness.
Another thing I really like is they send me spices to play with and for every holiday Savory Spice Shop has beautiful gift sets that are a perfect gift for the cooks, foodies, or grill masters you know. In June and through the summer, you can choose from three pre-packed Father’s Day BBQ sets: Wranglin’ Rubs, Steak Lovers, and Chops & Bones BBQ or, with more than 400 spice blends to choose from, Savory Spice Shop can customize sets based on your specific tastes.
Planning for last week’s get together, I was thinking grilled leg of lamb would be nice for a change of pace and when I opened their email with information about their Father’s Day gift sets, the Limos Lamb Rub immediately caught my eye. Savory Spice Shop was kind enough to send me a 1 ounce package of the Limnos Lamb Rub and the three other blends (Pearl St. Plank Rub, Pike’s Peak Butcher’s Rub, Flat Irons Prime Rib Rub) in the Wranglin’ Rubs set to try. With sea salt, garlic, lemon peel, onion, black pepper, fennel, rosemary, thyme, sage, basil, parsley, oregano, spearmint and marjoram, the Limnos Lamb Rub is perfect for lamb, but also good on venison, goose or duck. I used the entire 1 ounce package rubbed on two 3-pound legs of lamb – that, and Don’s grill technique, is the extent of my “secret” recipe. Several guests even said it was the best lamb they have ever had, and that’s what we cooks love to hear
Grilled Pineapple and Hatch Chile Salsa
1 1/2 cups chopped grilled pineapple
1/2 cup chopped grilled Hatch chiles* (I used about 8)
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Smoked Bourbon Brown Sugar*
Yield: 2 cups salsa
Note: This is the simple version – chopped red bell pepper and red onion adds a punch of color and crunch. Fresh cilantro would be good too – unless you have one of those people that have a cilantro aversion (there seems to be a lot of them).
*Last season’s Hatch chiles from Melissa’s Produce which I grilled and then froze to use throughout the year. Mild Anaheim or Pasilla (Poblano) chiles can be substituted. The Bourbon Brown Sugar is from Bourbon Barrel Foods, who I met in Louisville on a culinary tour.
Heat your grill to medium heat.
1. To trim the pineapple: Lay it down on a cutting board and, using a sharp chef’ knife, trim off the top green crown and about 1/2 inch of the top. Set the pineapple up and cut down along the sides, following the contour of the pineapple. Don’t cut deep enough to remove the eyes, the flesh closest to the skin is the sweetest. You can then cut in a spiral to remove the eyes or, if you want to cut round rings for grilling, use a paring knife or end of a vegetable peeler to remove the eyes. Then cut the pineapple crosswise into 1/2 inch rounds, discarding the last 1/2 at the bottom.
2. Grill the pineapple just long enough to get some nice grill marks – 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove and allow to cool before chopping into small chunks. Add the chopped Hatch chiles, lime juice and smoked bourbon brown sugar.
Serve with tortilla, pita, or vegetable chips.
While the lamb was cooking and the vegetables roasting we noshed on Grilled Pineapple and Hatch Chile salsa with some surprisingly good vegetable chips. I prepared the salsa and a Quinoa and Couscous Tabbouleh earlier in the day which freed me up to talk, joke, laugh and share wine with our guests. To me, easy entertaining is all about fresh ingredients that shine with a only a few additions to enhance their natural flavor and simple preparations that make it easy on the hosts. With hubs acting as grill master and the perfect weather we enjoy in SoCal, grilling is the only way to entertain!
Grilled Lamb with Savory Spice Limnos Lamb Rub
2 small boneless leg of lamb (about 3 1/2 pounds each) instead of one large so they cook quicker and there’s less chance of the exterior becoming overly charred.
1. Remove the lamb from packaging and remove the string. If there is a thick layer of fat, trim it off. A leg of lamb is a floppy, weird shaped piece of meat and will cook much more evenly if you butterfly it – slice along discernable sections so the meat lays somewhat flat. I often cut the leg into three pieces so each piece can be grilled according to its thickness.
2. Pat the lamb dry with paper towels. Make slits in the meat and rub one ounce of the Limnos Lamb Rub on both sides. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours to allow the seasoning to flavor the meat.
3. Heat your grill to medium high heat. Then turn down the middle burners to med-low, or move the charcoal briquets to the side, to cook the lamb over indirect heat after searing.
4. Sear the lamb, 5-7 minutes on each side, and move to the center to continue cooking. Length of time depends on thickness. Use a meat thermometer to determine doneness – remove when temperature reaches 145 degrees F. The meat will continue to cook while it is resting. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Serves 10-12 (with leftovers for Greek style gyros the next day)
After dinner, all that was left to do was make a quick Strawberries Romanoff sauce to serve over ice cream for dessert. Casual and simple, yet sensational – your guests are sure to leave full, happy and impressed!
In Orange County, Savory Spice Shop is located in Corona del Mar and the OC Mix at South Coast Collection in Costa Mesa. You can also order online or search for a Savory Spice Shop near you.