This grilled lamb dish is my favorite recipe from The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry. In the book, it’s listed by its French name, Agneau grillé mariné aux olives, artichauts et tomates.
People who say they don’t like lamb (like my mother) will like this dish. The earthy rosemary, the briny, salty goodness of the olives, the bite of garlic and the bright acid of lemon tenderize the meat making it moist plus lend it a a burst of flavors.
One key tip in making lamb to avoid overcooking it as it can make the meat chewy. Your goal is to cook it just to medium-rare, about 145°F/63°C, then let it rest before slicing.
Lamb and White Beans: So Very French
I first had a dish like this on a trip to Paris around 2002. I was single and living in London and decided to spend a stormy April weekend in Paris on my own. I wandered into a small bistro that specialized in food from Provence. This dish was the special that night, in part, because lamb is less expensive and more plentiful in April due to Easter.
High quality olives make all the difference in this dish, so don’t skimp. Go to a deli and get a glistening Mediterranean mix, or pick up this great mix from Trader Joe’s.
Key to Grilling: Butterfly the Leg
A butterflied leg is simply one with the bone remove and slit open like a book. This makes for an easy grilled lamb main with lots of flavor. With the bone removed, you can lay it flat on the grill and maneuver it as needed. Supermarket butchers will sometimes butterfly a leg if you ask nicely, while any full-service butcher will do it and be sure to give you the bone.
If you’ve got a sharp knife and confidence, it’s not hard to do yourself and takes about 15 minutes. BBC Good Food has a good video primer. I add the bone into with the beans for extra flavor.
Marinade the Lamb
Ideally, the lamb should marinate overnight in the refrigerator and be brought back to room temperature before grilling. If you don’t have that kind of time, marinate for at least a couple of hours. Don’t need a whole leg? I use this recipe for steaks cut from a lamb leg when serving just two or three.
No plans to grill? No worries. Roast the lamb uncovered for 50 to 70 minutes at 350°F/175°C turning at least once until an instant-read thermometer reads 145°F/63°C. Cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Instant Pot the White Beans
White northern and Cannelloni beans both work well. Use a mix of fresh rosemary and thyme that I bought for the herb mix in the marinade. I start the beans from dried, something I strongly recommend. (I’m a fan of Bob’s Red Mill Cannelloni beans.)
These days, I use my Instant Pot to cook dried beans in my Instant Pot as they’re cooked in less than an hour and no soaking is required. You’ll find instruction on how to cook dried white beans in your Instant Pot at the bottom of the recipe below. No Instant Pot? Saute the initial ingredients as directed and allow it to cook for about two hours, adding water if needed to keep the beans moist.
Round out this easy grilled lamb with simple steamed asparagus or green beans and rosemary popovers.
Easy Grilled Lamb with Rosemary & Olives and Instant Pot White Beans
- Electric pressure cooker
Lamb and marinade
- 4 ½ to 6 pounds (2 to 2.5 kgs) boneless leg of lamb butterflied
- ¾ cup (80 g) high quality olives, pitted
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 cup mixed fresh herbs chopped
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic peeled, smashed
- Juice of two lemons
- 4 ounces 125 g salt pork or thick cut bacon, cubed
- 1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium carrots chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 pound (500 g) dry white beans
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme chopped or 1 tablespoon dry
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 14 oz can chopped, seeded tomatoes
- 2 16 oz cans artichokes hearts, drained
- 2 quarts (2 liters) chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- Hot sauce such as Tabasco
Marinade the lamb
- Combine the ingredients in a small food processor. Blend until the olives and garlic are minced, and the mixture emulsifies. Slather on the lamb, and set into a non-reactive bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Marinate at least two hours or overnight.
- Make the beans
- Start the beans in a 6 qt. electric pressure cooker by sauteing the salt pork or bacon slowly over low heat until browned. Add the onion and carrots until softened. Add the beans, rosemary sprig, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, tomatoes, artichokes and enough chicken stock to cover the beans by about three inches. Secure the top and set to Manual for 28 minutes, allowing 10 to 15 minutes for pressure to build. Allow the pressure to release naturally according to your manufacturer's instruction, about 10 to 30 minutes.
Grill the lamb
- Discard marinade, pat the meat dry with paper towels. If grilling a whole leg, start cooking the fat side down, about 15 to 20 minutes per side or until a meat thermometer reaches 125°F/ 51°C degrees for medium rare. Let lamb rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Finish the beans
- Finish beans with butter, salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Remove rosemary sprig, bay leaves, stir in chopped parsley. Serve with sliced lamb.
Please note this page may contain affiliate links. Originally published in 2009, updated in 2022.
I made this for the first time a few years ago for Easter from your first book. We just made it again this past weekend for a special Sunday dinner since the weather was so nice and we decided to grill for the first time this year. This is arguably the very best lamb I’ve ever had. The marinating requires thinking ahead but it leaves the meat so tender and gives it so much yummy flavor! I made the white beans and then paired with the green beans you have elsewhere on the site. Everyone was incredibly impressed.
Thank you. This is my favorite recipe from The Sharper Your Knife. I make it for special occasions, too. Very easy, yet impressive.