Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Garden Fresh

Lemony Lamb-Chops with Summer Garden Pistachio Pesto  
 I have been woefully negligent on my food blogging . . . but I do have an excuse - really! Spring quarter was a busy one personally and professionally between teaching, directing prep, getting engaged, and buying my first home among other things. Whew! The home has been amazing. Matt and I set to work priming, painting, and making it our own. It's taken a lot of work and love and we've ALMOST gotten rid of the previous owners' poor taste. In spite of the ugly colors on the walls - the cute little house came with the perfect set of raised planter beds. I've been gardening up a storm and taking advantage of Oregon's long summer days and, so far, the garden has been good to me with a bounty of delicious herbs, greens, and tender young zucchini and yellow squash. This pesto and lamb dish was pulled from my summer garden. It was easy, fast, and super taste. Feel free to experiment with what you have growing in your garden! (Note: I made four small lamb chops - plenty for two people, but the amount of pasta would easily feed four if you want to add more meat for a larger crowd.)

- 4 individual lamb chops
- 1 shallow, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
- 2 lemons (juice and zest)
- 1 lb. dried pasta
- salt and pepper
- 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint, divided
- 1/3 c. pistachios
- 1 c. basil leaves
- 2 c. spinach leaves
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 c. Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 young zucchini and 1 young yellow squash, trimmed, halved and then sliced into matchstick-sized pieces
- 1/4 c. plus 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- splash of cooking sherry

Sprinkle both sides of lamb chops with salt and pepper, set in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, whisk together juice from 1 lemon, oregano, thyme, 2 Tbsp. mint, shallot, and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Pour mixture over lamb chops, cover dish with plastic wrap, and allow lamb chops to marinate for at least 20 minutes. While lamb chops marinate, make pesto.

Mince four cloves of garlic in a food processor. Add nuts and pulse to a coarse texture. Add remaining mint, juice and zest from remaining lemon, spinach, and basil. Pulse to combine. Add cheeses to mixture and begin running machine. Slowly add 1/4 c. olive oil while machine runs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set pesto aside in a medium-sized bowl.

After lamb chops have marinated thoroughly, complete the meal by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente (depending upon the shape it's usually between 9 and 11 minutes). When pasta is cooked, drain reserving 1/2 c. of pasta cooking liquid. Add cooked pasta to bowl of pesto add a little cooking liquid at a time until the consistency is smooth and silky.

While pasta is boiling, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a heavy pan over high. Add lamb chops and marinade and cook until browned on both sides (about 4 minutes per side for medium rare). Remove cooked lamb chops from heat and let rest on a plate, tented with foil. Add a splash of cooking sherry to the pan to deglaze, scraping brown bits off with a wooden spoon. Turn heat down to medium and add zucchini, squash, and remaining garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables of soft and have soaked in the marinade juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss cooked vegetables together with pesto pasta. Divide among plates and top each serving with two lamb chops. Enjoy the bounty of your garden! Yum!

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