Roasted Double Lamb Chops with Kale-Walnut Pesto


In the last few years I have really come to like lamb, specifically rack of lamb for its tenderness and mild flavor. Instead of using the entire rack whole, I prefer to cut the rack into double "chops" and simply roast or grill them.

Best of all, lamb shines beautifully when marinated with pesto. On a recent trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, Fellow Foodie and I had the opportunity to not only dine but work at Riccabona's, one of the best restaurants in town. One dish on the menu was pesto-marinated rack of lamb, where the chef cut the rack into double chops and grilled the lamb to perfection.

We had to try it out when we got home. Instead of using the traditional basil/pine nut combo for pesto, we opted for kale and walnuts which add a wonderful extra bite and nutty flavor to the lamb (plus the fact they are both healthy and good for you too). The pesto can be made ahead and frozen for up to 6 months and is great as a substitute for traditional pesto with pastas and sauces.


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Ingredients:

* 1 lamb rack, frenched, cut into 4 portions (see below)
* 1/3 - 1/2 C walnuts, toasted
* 5 stalks (about 1 bunch) Tuscan kale, rinsed
* 1/4 C parmesan cheese
* 1 clove garlic
* 1 - 1 1/2 C olive oil
* 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
* sea salt and fresh ground pepper

It is very important to toast the walnuts. If they are raw they are slightly bitter - toasting them brings out their natural oils and gives them a deeper, nuttier flavor and texture. Toast until light brown.


Next up, attacking the kale.


To remove the leaves from the rib, pull the leaves away in a downward motion running your hands against the rib. (The rib is extremely bitter so make sure to remove)


Bring a pot to a boil with some lightly salted water and add the kale leaves to the pot to blanch, about 1 minute, until slightly wilted. Drain and cool under running cold water.


pat the kale dry on paper towels.


Add the walnuts, kale, parmesan cheese, garlic, and red pepper flakes to a food processor and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil until the pesto forms into a paste. Season with salt and pepper.




Now, up for the lamb...


Start by slicing the lamb into double chops by carefully cutting between the bones.


With a normal rack with 8 bones, you will have 4 double chops.


Coat the lamb with the pesto and place in a plastic bag or dish for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.



When ready, preheat oven to 350F. Heat up a grill or saute pan (or a barbeque) over medium-high and add some olive oil to the pan; place lamb chops skin-side down in pan to begin to caramelize, about 5-7 minutes.



Place in the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until medium rare. This night we paired the lamb simply with amazing roasted baby fingerling potatoes and asparagus.


The nuttiness from the pesto when caramelized with the lamb is fantastic. This really screams Spring with the bright flavors of kale paired with the lamb and the crisp asparagus spears from a quick roast in the oven. Cheers and enjoy!

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