I know, it’s been awhile. But for what it’s worth, my days away have been nothing less than culinary. In between taking reservations and bringing people to their tables at Lucques, I’ve managed to sneak my way in to a white chef’s jacket and in to the kitchen there, where when I’m not being screamed at that I’m “as slow as a grandma” and to hurry up and finish organizing the walk-in refrigerator, I’ve learned how to cook like a pro. Or, at least, dice an onion like one. I’ve learned that chefs are the biggest rock stars I’ll ever know and my respect and admiration for them continues to grow. I devoured former New York Time’s food critic Frank Bruni’s memoir “Born Round.” Which made me laugh, cry, have profound cravings for Italian food, and want to be a food critic more than ever before. I catered a one-year-old’s birthday party. Which was a success, except that apparently they don’t serve alcohol at one-year-old’s parties…who knew? But what better time of year to jump back in to the beautiful world of food blogging than at the start of spring. Vibrant green vegetables and herbs are everywhere. And I for one, can’t stop thinking about lamb.
Lamb Loin Chops with Mint-Basil Pesto, White Bean Puree and Asparagus
- 2 cups fresh mint leaves
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 3 garlic cloves
- Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb lamb loin chops, (approx. 2 chops per person)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 15- ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 Asparagus spears, tough ends removed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant. This should take about 7 minutes, but I always suggest checking on them periodically. Be careful not to let them burn. Remove from oven and transfer to a glass bowl to let cool. When nuts have cooled completely, place them along with the basil and mint leaves, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a food processor and process until combined. Slowly add the olive oil until the pesto is smooth and creamy. Using a spatula, transfer the pesto from the food processor to a bowl and fold in the grated Parmesan. Taste for seasoning. Set aside.
In large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook, stirring frequently for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beans and continue to stir. After another minute add 1/4 cup of the chicken broth and cook until liquid has reduced to half. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth.
Meanwhile, remove lamb loin chops from the refrigerator to let them come to room temperature. Rub them on all sides with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Heat grill or grill pan to high heat and add the chops. Grill on each side for 3 minutes for medium-rare.
While chops are coming to room temperature, turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Spread the asparagus spears on a baking sheet and using both hands, toss in olive oil and salt. Roast in the oven for 5 -7 minutes.
Place a dollop of the bean puree in the center of each plate. Place the lamb loin chops a top the puree and finish with a dollop of the mint-basil pesto. Serve with the roasted asparagus and enjoy.