Pistachio and Rosemary Crusted Lamb with an Herb Salad and Israeli Couscous
I love lamp? Oh, no wait, I love lamb. I mean lamb is a favorite of mine. Lamb burgers, rack of lamb, lamb stew, snuggly lambs from TV.. Let us erase that last one, I don’t want you picturing a beloved TV character while you’re debating whether or not you should cook this dish. It is just like when my daughter discovered that hot dogs come from pigs. She said, “Yeah, but not the cute pink ones mommy.” It wasn’t even a question, it was a statement. Like certainly is was a mean and yucky looking pig who said mean and profane things to all over the other pigs. Certainly, that was the kind of pig she was eating; tasty but cruel.
Anyway. Don’t let a rack of lamb or the number of elements in the dish throw you off. In my opinion they are all pretty easy to put together. You’re not out about to be just whipping this dish together in 30 minutes or going to “set it and forget it”. But you’re mostly just reusing your food processor a handful of times and washing a few extra dishes then you typically would. Also, a lot of the ingredients are used in more than one element of the dish. Another benefit to this is that the flavors balance each other out. The same nuttiness of the pistachios in the lamb’s crust also compliments itself well to the herb and arugula salad. The sweet but acidic roasted garlic vinaigrette is a super best friend to round out the lamb and dress the salad. Plus, I mean, it is delicious. Which is, of course, the point. I had made this dish to impress someone. And let us just say, it accomplished its job.
For the Pistachio and Rosemary Crusted Lamb:
2- 1 ½ racks of lamb
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
4-5 sprigs of rosemary
½ cup shelled pistachios
3-5 cloves of garlic
¼ cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp Dijon
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
While you are allowing your heating vessel to get quite hot, salt and pepper the lamb to taste.
Once the pan is hot, and the olive oil and place your lamb onto the surface. I keep emphasizing hot since I want it to make that amazing crackling sound when it hits the oil.
Brown the lamb on all sides, 3-5 minutes per side.
While the lamb is browning, combine the rosemary, pistachios, garlic,Parmesan and Dijon into food processor. Pulse it until everything is small and mixed well, just a slight step chunkier than a paste. You want it spreadable and light enough to stick to the lamb, but still want to maintain some of the distinct textures of some of the star ingredients.
After the lamb has browned on the stove top, carefully use your fingers or a spoon to coat the lamb with the pistachio rosemary mixture.
Place the crusted lamb onto a silicone mat (or parchment paper) on top of a cookie sheet pan and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes for a medium rare cook. You can, of course, use a meat thermometer to verify the temperature or a different cook if you’re looking to make it a true rare, medium or medium well. If you go anything above medium, please just turn around and go home. Please don’t overcook this lovely lamb.
Allow the lamb to rest for 5-8 minutes before carving. This will allow the juices to be absorbed back into the meat, keeping it flavorful and juicy.
For the Roasted Garlic and Dijon Vinaigrette:
½ cup roasted garlic cloves
2 tbsp Dijon
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 cloves of fresh garlic
½ sprig rosemary
2 tbsp honey
¾ cup olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
For the Olive Tapanade:
3.5 oz drained Kalamata olives
3 oz drained green California olives
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp grated parmesan
½ tbsp. lemon juice
(I used this to toss into the Israeli couscous and top the herbed salad. If you chose to forgo this piece because you have some irrational dislike of olives or something, you are going to want to add some salt into other aspects of the dish that use the olives in to add depth and a salty dimension.
In a food processor pulse all of the ingredients into a tapenade like consistency. This should take roughly 5 seconds or so. Try not to turn it into a paste.
(I halted when referring this dish to a tapenade, although I suppose it really is, because my Olive Tapenade recipe has so many more elements to it. But that is basically what you’re making.)
For the Israeli Couscous:
4-5 Oz dry Israeli Couscous
2-3 tbsp of the Dijon dressing you made above
1 tbsp Olive Oil
½ cup of the olive spread
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
Cook the Israeli Couscous as described on the container.
Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl
Add the Dijon dressing, some more olive oil, the olive tapenade and salt and pepper to taste. I also added some red pepper flakes to give it just a little heat.
For the Herbed Salad with Zucchini Ribbons:
2 ½ oz arugula
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped mint leaves
1 cup chopped basil leaves
1 zucchini, shaved
¾ cup olive tapenade mix
¼ cup goat cheese crumbles
Add dressing as needed
In a large bowl add arugula and herbs, toss them together.
You easily shave the zucchini by taking a vegetable peeler and running it down the length of the vegetable. If you have a Mandolin, I am also a huge fan of those. (I also cut each ribbon in half to make it more manageable to integrate into the salad. This is an optional step.)
Add the olive tapenade, goat cheese crumbles, pistachios and the salad dressing. You can them all at the end of adding the herbs and zucchini, or chose to add them after plating depending on how you want it to look. Your call.
You can also combine the Israeli Couscous mixture with the salad. I do stuff like this all the time; take a small carby or starchy element and integrate it into a salad, similar to a tabbouleh. Heck, I even chose to take a handful of the herbed salad, chopped it up finely and toss it with the couscous.
Serve each person with 2-3 pieces of lamb, a generous plating of the herbed salad and ½ to ¾ cup of the Israeli Couscous. You can also add some of the Roasted Garlic Dijon to the top of the lamb, or more olive tapenade as well.