Lamb and mint. Like Boris & Natasha, bourbon & ginger, and pink & gray in the 80s, they just belong together. Nothing really beats mint jelly, but in the summer, I like to take advantage of fresher offerings and make a mint pesto to slather on my lamb.
This recipe calls for roasted lamb loin chops, which I like because they provide a controlled, little portion of meat (and fat!) to have with a heaping salad. I usually eat just one, but if you're having friends over, plate two per person.
Or even better, if you're luckier than we are and have a grill, get a big rack of lamb rib chops and fire 'em up. Summer cooking at its finest.
Roasted Lamb Chops with Mint-Pistachio Pesto
3 cups packed mint leaves
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
half a zucchini, grated
8 small lamb loin chops, about 2 pounds total
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
To make the pesto, combine mint and garlic in a food processor. Run it while slowly pouring olive oil through the tube until pesto reaches desired consistency. Add pistachios and run processor for another 15-20 seconds. Stir in the grated zucchini.
Preheat oven to 375°. Score the fat of the lamb to prevent curling and season the chops with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy, oven-proof pan over high heat, and add oil, heating until it ripples slightly when pan is shaken. Working in two batches, sear all sides of the lamb. Remove from heat and coat chops with pesto. Move pan to oven and cook until the meat's internal temperature reaches 145° for medium-rare, or 160° for medium, about 12–15 minutes.