Lamb chops with pomegranate salsa and hello from Paris

Well, hello there! I don't blame you if you've given up on me, it's been a long winter. 

I'm writing from Paris, where I am taking a detour from my regular work and studying this week with Peter Turnley, master photographer, wonderful human being, and master teacher. 

One has very few opportunities to meet  remarkable teachers, and I have been lucky enough in this life so far to have met two great ones. I have an inkling that Peter could be the third. After one day, I am very excited to branch out and experience the world in a new way, and what better place to do it than in Paris, where the eye  meets beauty at every corner. 

But wait, you came here for a recipe, n'est-ce pas? Here is one for you, for spring. And a bonus recipe for the leftovers.

“Spring lamb” is a bit of a misleading term. Most commercial lamb you purchase now is about 6 to 9 months old; true spring lamb won’t be on the market until at least July. Still, lamb chops are a special treat, and in light of the persisting piles of snow this year that were slow to disappear, a celebration of the coming of spring is in order. To truly savor the lamb, a simple preparation is best. Here the chops are cooked in olive oil in a pan over medium high heat for just a few minutes, with nary a fancy embellishment. Simply sprinkle with a lemon and thyme mixture and serve with a colorful minty pomegranate salsa. A few extra lamb chops and some extra salsa make another meal with roasted eggplant. 

Lamb chops with pomegranate and mint salsa
Serves 4 with leftovers

Seeds from 1 pomegranate (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 small Persian or Armenian cucumbers, cut into small cubes
1 cup red grapes, halved
1/2 small jalapeno (or more, to taste), finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves, about 1/2 bunch

1. In a bowl, stir together the pomegranate seeds, cucumbers, grapes, jalapeno, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside 1 1/2 cups for the eggplant salad. Stir the mint into the remaining salsa, and serve with the lamb chops.

1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Generous amount of coarse pepper
12 (1 1/2-inch thick) loin lamb chops, about 3 1/2 pounds total
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. With a vegetable peeler, remove the rind from the lemon, leaving behind the bitter white pith. On a cutting board, finely chop the lemon rind. Sprinkle it with the thyme, salt, and pepper. With your fingers, mix it together.

2. In a large cast iron or heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the lamb chops and cook 4 to 5 minutes on a side, or until browned and a thermometer inserted into the center of a chop registers 130 degrees for medium rare. Transfer to a warm platter and sprinkle with the lemon and thyme mixture. Cover lightly with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Set aside 4 chops for the eggplant salad. Serve 2 chops per person with pomegranate salsa. 

Roasted eggplant and lamb salad
Serves 4 

2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
2 teaspoons honey
6 tablespoons olive oil
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, salt and pepper, coriander, and honey. Gradually whisk in the olive oil.

3 small (8 ounces each) eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
Sliced meat from 4 lamb chops
2 large handfuls arugula
Leaves from 1/2 bunch mint
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups reserved pomegranate salsa

1. Set the oven at 425 degrees.

2. Dip the eggplant slices in the dressing, allowing the excess drip back into the bowl. Spread the rounds on a rimmed baking sheet. Reserve the remaining dressing. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until brown and tender. Remove from the oven. With a pastry brush, brush with more dressing. Cool to room temperature.

3. In a bowl, toss the lamb, arugula, mint leaves, and tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. On a platter, spread the eggplant slices. Top with the salad. Distribute the reserved pomegranate salsa over the top. 


Posted on May 18, 2015 .