Growing up in a family that is half Italian and half Kiwi means we ate a variety of dishes ranging from Italian pastas to schnitzels. There was always a Tupperware container in the fridge filled with European cheeses, olives, salami and pâtés – and it was frequently raided! 

My best childhood friend came from an English family and once a week had the traditional Sunday roast. There was invariably a joint of meat, gravy, mint sauce if it was lamb and, of course, three veg, often frozen. I loved the formality of this regular occasion. We would all sit up and a plate would arrive smothered in steaming hot gravy. The conversation would be minimal as we were all on our best behaviour and it was expected that we ate everything before asking for seconds. You always want what you don’t have and my friends coveted our family’s casual style of eating. Food was placed in the centre of the table so you could help yourself and there would always be a selection of things crossing the cultural divide which we were encouraged to try. I certainly don’t have stories of torture such as “you can’t leave the table until you have eaten the soggy vegetables”.

My strongest memory is of sitting on my dad’s knee helping him finish his dinner (that always tasted better due to the salt and olive oil)! He’d round off his meal with a crisp simple salad topped with oil and vinegar – Italian style. My roast dinner platter is a take on the traditional but is plated up so everyone help themselves. It looks impressive, is simple to prepare and, like many of our family meals, anything goes.

Prep time

30 mins

Cook time

45 mins

Total time

1 hour 15 mins

Serves: 4

What you need

  • 500 grams pumpkin, cut into even wedges
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 large floury potatoes (I used Agria), peeled and cut in chunks
    1 bunch silverbeet or spinach, stalk removed and finely chopped
  • 50 grams butter
  • ½ cup milk (or less)
  • 12 French lamb cutlets (3 per person)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 x 22g packets brown onion gravy mix
  • 2 cups frozen green peas, cooked in boiling water for a 2-3 minutes

How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and olive oil together in a bowl and rub all over the pumpkin
  3. Place the pumpkin on a tray lined with baking paper and roast for around 30 minutes until tender. Toss halfway through cooking time so both sides get colour.
  4. While the pumpkin is cooking, place potatoes in a saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender (approx 20 minutes); add the spinach in the last 5 minutes of the cooking time.
  5. Drain in a colander then return potatoes and silverbeet to the pot. Add the butter and mash, adding enough milk to get a creamy soft mash. Cover and set aside.
  6. Toss the lamb in the rosemary, garlic, salt, lemon rind and olive oil.
  7. Heat a film of oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat. Cook cutlets for about 3 minutes each side, until well coloured. Set lamb aside to rest.
    8. Return the pan to the heat and add gravy mix with 2 cups of water, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened.
  8. Place mashed potato onto a large platter. Arrange lamb cutlets and pumpkin slices on top of the potato. Scatter peas over the top. Pour hot gravy over just before serving.
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Vanessa and Ingrid share food and photography as their passions. They started in 2009, when they both started having kids. Their blog is a journey through the ups and downs of motherhood with ideas and recipes that have helped make their busy lives a little easier and more enjoyable.It also has lots of fun features such as cook offs between the two sisters.

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