Poached lamb in fresh vine leaves with warm cauliflower salad

Lyndey Milan cooked this at Petersons Winery in Armidale using some of their stunning wines and picking up some award-winning lamb backstrap from Peter and Sally Strelitz from Milly Hill lamb farm. 

Visit Lyndey's website here: lyndeymilan.com


4 vine leaves
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 anchovies in oil, drained
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 x 300g lamb backstraps
250ml (1 cup) white wine
500ml (2 cups) chicken stock

Cauliflower salad
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
50g (1/3 cup) pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 tablespoons baby capers, drained and rinsed
750g cauliflower (about half a large head)
125ml (1/2 cup) verjuice (optional)
30g feta
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves


  1. Blanch the vine leaves in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Place on paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
  2. In a mortar and pestle or a small food processor, make a paste with the chilli, garlic, anchovies, cumin and fennel and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the oil to make a paste.
  3. Cut each backstrap in half horizontally. Using a sharp knife, make a pocket along the long side of each half ending 2cm from each end. Season inside the pockets and on the outside generously with salt and pepper. Spoon the paste into the pocket and wrap a vine leaf around the middle to cover the pocket. Secure the vine leaf around the lamb with kitchen string.
  4. Place the wine and stock in a large saucepan or deep frying pan, large enough to hold the lamb in a single layer. Top up with extra water if necessary and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and lower in the lamb parcels. Poach the lamb gently for 6 minutes, turning over once halfway through cooking. Remove from the heat and allow to rest in the poaching liquid for 5–10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the cauliflower salad by heating the oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the olives and capers and fry for 2 minutes. Slice the cauliflower into large slices about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Add to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, for 5 minutes or until golden and slightly softened. When almost cooked, add the verjuice, if using, and reduce for a minute or two.
  6. To serve, divide the cauliflower salad among the plates and top with the crumbled feta and oregano leaves. Remove the string from the lamb, cut each piece in half diagonally and serve beside the salad.


You can substitute preserved vine leaves for fresh vine leaves. Simply wash them and pat dry.

The joy of this dish is that it is relatively light, so it calls for a lighter style of wine like a pinot noir or, if you are a white wine lover, a chardonnay.