I know #CanadaDay is still some time away, but I wanted to get you excited about the first summer long weekend by sharing a menu that is super tasty and one that will be perfect to celebrate Canada's #150thbirthday bash later this summer too!

I love this menu for it's great make aheads and also because it showcases something wonderful here in Canada-our multicultural society that brings flavours from around the world together!
Whether you are planning on being home with friends or at a cottage to kick off the first official #summer weekend be sure to have fun and eat well!

**Make the salad and ice cream sandwiches ahead and then the leg of lamb can grill slowly while you enjoy the great weather outside. Keep inside cool and enjoy your guests without worrying about dinner.

Serrano Ham and Spinach Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Feed a crowd for the long weekend with this hearty main course. A longer slow grill on indirect heat helps keep the meat moist and juicy.

6 cups (1.5 L) baby spinach, rinsed
2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp (10 mL) each chopped fresh thyme leaves and mint
1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded Manchego cheese
1/3 cup (80 mL) seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup (60 mL) drained chopped sundried tomatoes in oil
3 tbsp (45 mL) chopped fresh dill
Pinch each salt and pepper
1 boneless butterflied leg of lamb (about 3 lb/1.5 kg)
4 slices Serrano ham

In a large nonstick skillet, cook spinach over medium high heat for about 3 minutes or until wilted. Drain well and squeeze out liquid. Chop coarsely and place in bowl; set aside.

Return skillet to medium heat. Add oil, onion, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring for about 4 minutes or until softened. Stir into spinach mixture and let cool slightly. Stir in cheese, breadcrumbs, sundried tomatoes, dill, salt and pepper; set aside.

Place lamb leg fat side down on surface and lay Serrano ham over top. Spread with spinach mixture, leaving a 1 inch (2.5 cm) border all around. Starting at narrow end, roll up jelly roll style.

Tie roast with kitchen string at 1 inch (2.5 cm) intervals. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Prepare a gas grill for indirect heat: Turn all burners to high and close lid. When temperature reaches 350°F (180 C), turn off one of the burners, creating an indirect heat area, and adjust burners to maintain temperature.

Grill lamb over indirect heat area, turning over once halfway through for about 1 1/2 hours or until meat thermometer registers 145 F (63 C) for medium rare. Transfer to cutting board and let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Makes 10 servings.

Quinoa Salad with Fresh Vegetables

With a nutty flavour and texture this salad is packed with summer produce and a snappy vinaigrette. Perfect to tote along to the next picnic party. You can serve this warm or cold.

2 cups (500 mL) quinoa
4 cups (1 L) reduced sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups (500 mL) sugar snap peas or chopped asparagus
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 field cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup (75 mL) pine nuts
1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped fresh Italian parsley

Lemon Vinaigrette:
3 tbsp (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) cider vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) basil pesto
2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
Pinch pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh mint

Place quinoa in fine mesh sieve. Rinse and drain well. Place quinoa in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Toast, stirring frequently for about 6 minutes or until fragrant and beginning to hear quinoa pop. Add broth and bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low; simmer for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and add sugar snap peas, return cover and let stand 5 minutes. Using fork, fluff quinoa into large bowl. Let cool slightly. Add grape tomatoes, cucumber, pine nuts and parsley.

Lemon Vinaigrette: In small bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, vinegar, pesto, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over salad and add mint; stir to combine.

Makes 12 servings.

Chocolate Toffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

All I can say is hide these from your family! Addictive and so creamy, the ice cream and cookie make this a summertime treat for every night.

1/2 cup (125 mL) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 mL) baking powder
Pinch salt
3/4 cup (175 mL) mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup (175 mL) toffee chips
4 1/2 cups (1.125 mL) vanilla ice cream

In large bowl, using electric mixer beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. 

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and powder and salt. Stir into butter mixture and stir until smooth. Add chocolate and toffee chips until well combined.

Drop 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake in centre of 350 F (180 C) oven for about 15 minutes or until golden. Let cool on pan on rack. Repeat with remaining dough.

Take one cookie and place 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the ice cream on bottom half. Sandwich with another cookie pushing to get ice cream to outer edge. Roll outside edge in toffee chips if desired. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for about 2 hours or up to 2 weeks.

Makes 9 sandwiches or more if the cookies are smaller!


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