weeknight gourmet

Category : Lamb

A Barefoot Contessa Holiday Meal: Herb-Roasted Lamb, Zucchini Gratin & Haricot Vert with Shallots

In case you are still on the hunt for a holiday menu, here is one that is sure to please any lamb lover!

I was happy to have 7 lamb lovers in the Berkshires this past weekend for an anniversary / holiday celebration with our dearest friends the Freilichs.  I turned to the Barefoot Contessa for recipe guidance as she always pleases a crowd and (at least on her show) looks to do it in a effortless, low stress way.

The lamb turned out perfectly!  It was a beautiful piece of meat from Guido’s in Pittsfield.  And the garlic – rosemary rub flavored the lamb amazingly well.  Definitely have a meat thermometer on hand when cooking a piece of meat of that size and varied thickness.

I served the lamb with the Barefoot Contessa’s Zucchini Gratin and Green Beans with Shallots (recipe below).  I have made the Zucchini Gratin a number of times and it is always a hit.  Given the richness of that side dish, I made a simple dish with haricot vert blanched and tossed with sauteed shallots and pancetta.  The pancetta was my add and was a nice touch!

Good friends, good wine, and a delicious meal made for a wonderful evening and weekend!

Herb-Roasted Lamb
Barefoot Contessa

  • 12 large unpeeled garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (6-pound) boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and tied
  • 4 to 5 pounds small unpeeled potatoes (16 to 20 potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven so the lamb will sit in the middle of the oven.

Peel 6 of the cloves of garlic and place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the rosemary, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and butter. Process until the garlic and rosemary are finely minced. Thoroughly coat the top and sides of the lamb with the rosemary mixture. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Toss the potatoes and remaining unpeeled garlic in a bowl with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place the lamb on top of the potatoes and roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the lamb is 135 degrees (rare) or 145 degrees (medium). Remove from the oven and put the lamb on a platter; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow the lamb to rest for about 20 minutes. Slice and serve with the potatoes.
String Beans with Shallots
Barefoot Contessa

  • 1 pound French string beans (haricots verts), ends removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 3 large shallots, large-diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes only. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water.

Heat the butter and oil in a very large saute pan (12-inch diameter) or large pot and saute the shallots on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned. Drain the string beans and add to the shallots with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper, tossing well. Heat only until the beans are hot.

If you’re using regular string beans, blanch them for about 3 minutes, until they’re crisp-tender.

Elegant Weeknight Meal: Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb & Broccolini with Olives and Capers

Here are two great recipes for weeknight entertaining or for a special meal for you and your love.  Rack of lamb sounds complicated but is surprisingly quick and easy to make.

Luckily, I married a fellow lamb lover.  Not everyone likes lamb.  But I am a firm believer that if someone who likes beef and pork claims they don’t like lamb, they just haven’t had well prepared lamb.  It is by far my favorite meat!

The key to really delicious rack of lamb is to sear it on both sides and to then cook it in the oven at a relatively high temperature (425 degrees).  In this recipe after searing the lamb, you smear Dijon mustard and crushed garlic on the rack and then press a bread crumb – parmesan combo on top.  So much flavor!!  This recipe and the Lamb Chops with Pistachio Tapenade are now my go-to lamb recipes!

Broccolini is a great and easy side dish.  I think it has a better texture than regular broccoli and will be more interesting to your guests.  After cooking the broccolini, you toss it with a olive oil, garlic, olive, and caper mixture.  Simple and delicious!

Tim and I enjoyed our meal with a wonderful Châteauneuf-du-Pape that we received as a gift.  A surprisingly tasty end to a typical Tuesday!

Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb
Emeril Lagasse

  • 1 rack of lamb, trimmed (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Season rack of lamb well on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a medium skillet over high heat and, when hot, add the oil. When the oil is almost smoking, add the rack of lamb and brown well on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a plate and set aside to cool slightly before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Using the back of a spoon, spread the mustard evenly over all sides of the lamb. Spread the minced garlic over the lamb in the same manner.

In a small mixing bowl combine the breadcrumbs and grated cheese and toss to thoroughly combine. Using your hands or a spoon, spread the breadcrumb mixture evenly all over the lamb, pressing so that the crumbs adhere to the meat.

Place the rack of lamb on a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes for medium-rare. Allow lamb to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before carving into chops to serve.


Broccolini with Olives & Capers
Fine Cooking

  • 4 medium bunches broccolini (2 to 2-1/2 lb.)
  • 6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbs. chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 Tbs. chopped capers (rinse only if salt-packed)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccolini and stir to separate the stems. When the water returns to a boil, adjust the heat to a simmer and cook until crisp tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well. (The broccolini may be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated.)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 1 minute, taking care not to let it get any color. Add the olives and capers and cook for 1 minute more. Add the broccolini and toss to coat. If the broccolini was cooked ahead, keep tossing until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Holiday Menu: Rack of Lamb, Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette, and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  We had a great first Christmas with Charlotte.  We enjoyed lots of time with family and lots of delicious food!

In case you are looking for menu ideas for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, I highly recommend our Christmas meal!  My go-to ladies — Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis — helped make our holiday meal spectacular!

The lamb was so flavorful and tender and the portobello mushrooms were amazing (and could have been a meal themselves).  The sprouts and squash were a great combination that I had never tried before.  And, I have made this cranberry cake before and it is always festive and delicious!

Grilled & Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette
Rack of Lamb Persillade
Cranberry Upside-down Cake

Holiday Menu: Rack of Lamb Persillade

I love rack of lamb!  And, this is a delicious and simple recipe!  The breadcrumb crust has great flavor from the lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. And, the quality of lamb we had was just unbelievable.  So tender!

The only change I would make is searing both sides of the racks before putting them in the oven.  Our lamb required about 10 minutes longer than the recipe called for and I think had I seared the lamb it would have been done faster.
Rack of Lamb Persillade
Barefoot Contessa

  • 3 small or 2 large racks of lamb, frenched
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic cloves (3 cloves)
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the racks in a roasting pan, fat side up. Rub the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast the lamb for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the parsley and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until they’re both finely minced. Add the bread crumbs and lemon zest and process for a second until combined.

Take the lamb out of the oven and quickly press the parsley mixture on top of the meat. Drizzle with the melted butter and return immediately to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.

Take the lamb out of the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, cut in double chops, and serve.

Lamb Chops with Pistachio Tapenade

I have been cooking but have been finding it hard to actually find the time to write posts.  Fresh Direct has been delivering our groceries.  And, Charlotte generally lets me cook but she doesn’t allow me and Tim to eat at the same time.  We take turns holding her while the other eats.  I think she just doesn’t want to miss out on the action!

I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago and it was absolutely delicious! I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, a wonderful cooking blog I encourage you to check out.  I can only aspire to have photos as gorgeous as Deb’s!  She had a baby in the fall and is also writing a baby food blog.

Tim and I both love lamb chops and this was a delicious way to prepare them.  The pistachio tapenade is amazing — it really is more of an olive tapenade but the pistachios lend a nice flavor.  I forgot to toast the nuts but it was still great.

I served the lamb chops with roasted asparagus.  We loved the meal and it is quick to prepare but elegant enough for guests!

Lamb Chops with Pistachio Tapenade
Anne Burrell (via Smitten Kitchen)

1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and toasted
1/2 cup pitted green (what I used) or Cerignola (what Burrell recommends) olives
2 tablespoons capers
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano leaves (nixed because mine had gone bad)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested
1 (8-rib) rack of lamb or 6 lamb chops
Freshly ground black pepper*

To make the pistachio tapenade: In a food processor combine the pistachios, olives, capers, garlic, herbs and puree. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture becomes a paste. Add the zest and pulse 1 more time, drizzling in more oil if necessary. Reserve until ready to use.

Cook your chops: Season your six lamb chops generously on either side with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow them to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the lamb chops and cook for about 2 minutes on each side to brown. If the pan begins to smoke, lower the heat. The chops should be beautifully caramelized on both sides. Remove the chops to a sheet pan and schmear generously with the pistachio tapenade. Place in preheated oven and cook another 4 to 5 minutes for medium rare. Remove chops from oven and let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Cooking with Baby

Our baby girl, Charlotte, arrived on May 12th! Tim and I are adjusting to parenthood and are totally enamored by our little one. Angus seems to be adjusting well which is a great relief.

Even with the myriad of options in NYC, there is only so much takeout I can eat so I have started cooking dinner again. So far, I’ve made super simple meals that haven’t required recipes. Mostly I have cooked some sort of protein and then made a big salad and/or roasted some veggies. Luckily I can order good quality groceries from Fresh Direct which makes it very easy to have a well stocked kitchen.

Here are some ideas for you when you want to cook but really don’t have the time or energy to find and follow a recipe:

Grilled skirt steak, roasted asparagus, and a salad
I love skirt steak and it is so quick to cook up on a grill pan. Just season with some kosher salt and pepper or your favorite steak seasoning. I like Emeril’s Steak Rub and McCormick’s Spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning. I roasted some local asparagus and made a simple salad with some lettuce, tomatoes, feta, and olives.

Grilled chicken sausages and a salad
There are so many delicious varieties of chicken and turkey sausages. I just cooked a package of sausages on a grill pan and made a big salad. If you have onion and/or peppers on hand, you can saute those as a side.

Lamb burgers and a Greek salad
I ordered some Pat La Freida lamb and provolone burgers from Fresh Direct. Pat La Freida — which is located very close to where we live — provides meat and burgers to some great NYC restaurants like the Minetta Tavern. I grilled the burgers on a grill pan and made a big Greek-style salad with romaine, tomatoes, olives, and feta. If you want to make the burgers extra special, top with store-bought hummus or tsatsiki.

Hopefully I’ll have some more guest blog posts coming and I’ll start posting more.

Easter Dinner: Roasted Lamb Chops with Charmoula & Skillet Asparagus

We had a quiet Easter at home in New York City.  My mom came in for dinner.  Since Tim, my mom, and I are all lamb lovers, I decided lamb chops were a perfect Easter dinner. I found this recipe on Epicurious and thought it looked delicious.

Charmoula is a zesty herb and garlic sauce from the Middle East.  The store was out of mint so I just doubled the amount of cilantro.  The sauce was delicious on the lamb and provided great flavor as a marinade.

I cooked the lamb for the 13 minutes the recipe called for and the lamb turned out perfectly.  I typically roast asparagus but the skillet asparagus was delicious.  I squeezed a bit of lemon juice on the asparagus before serving.

Roasted Lamb Chops with Charmoula and Skillet Asparagus
Bon Appetit


  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups (lightly packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup (lightly packed) fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup (lightly packed) fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika (pimentón dulce)* or sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Lamb & Asparagus

  • 8 (1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch-thick) lamb loin chops (about 2 2/3 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus, trimmed, peeled, tops cut into 3-inch-long pieces, stalks cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallot
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

For charmoula:
Heat small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and toast until aromatic and slightly darker, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Transfer to processor. Add parsley leaves and next 6 ingredients to processor. Using on/off turns, process until coarse paste forms. With machine running, gradually add 4 tablespoons oil. Transfer 2 tablespoons charmoula to small bowl; whisk in lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Cover and chill to serve with lamb.

For lamb & asparagus:
Transfer remaining charmoula to large resealable plastic bag. Add lamb chops; seal bag and turn to coat well. Chill at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Let lamb and charmoula sauce in bowl stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 500°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place rack on prepared baking sheet. Place lamb on rack and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until thermometer inserted into center registers 130°F for medium-rare, about 13 minutes. Transfer lamb to platter. Tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter with 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add asparagus and sauté until tender, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add shallot and lemon peel. Sauté 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place 2 lamb chops on each of 4 plates. Divide asparagus among plates. Drizzle lamb and asparagus with charmoula sauce, passing remaining sauce alongside.

Summer Barbecue Menu: Spiced Butterflied Leg of Lamb, Zucchini & Orzo, and Roasted Red Peppers with White Beans and Mozzarella

We had Tim’s family up to the Berkshires this weekend.  Tim’s parents and the dogs arrived on Friday and Tim’s brother, his wife, and baby girl came on Saturday.

We had this delicious and surprisingly simple barbecue menu on Friday night!  I love grilled lamb and I tried to take advantage of the fresh zucchini at the store and my mother-in-law Pam’s fresh lettuce from the garden.

I think everyone enjoyed the meal!

Spiced Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Zucchini & Orzo

Roasted Red Peppers with White Beans and Mozzarella

Fresh Greens from Pam’s Garden

Summer Barbecue Menu: Spiced Butterflied Leg of Lamb

One of my favorite summertime barbecue treats growing up was butterflied leg of lamb.  My dad would butterfly the leg of lamb himself and grill it to perfection!  SUPERB-O!

I am not the butcher he was so when I ask a butcher to butterfly the leg for me.  I have tried to mimic my dad’s delicious lamb by using his secret marinade — Wishbone Italian dressing.  Results are best when marinated for many hours or ideally overnight.  I have made this a number of times and everyone loves it!

But I saw this recipe the other day and it looked super simple and flavorful!  I used ground coriander because I didn’t have coriander seeds (and I already have a ludicrously large spice collection!).  And, I was generous with the red pepper flakes.  The lamb marinated for 3 to 4 hours in the fridge.

The lamb was very flavorful!  I am glad to now have two marinates in my leg of lamb repertoire!

Spiced Butterflied Leg of Lamb
Everyday Food

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grates
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds butterflied leg of lamb
  • Grilled lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

In a small bowl, combine oil, coriander and fennel seeds, red-pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In a shallow dish, coat lamb with marinade. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes (or refrigerate, up to overnight).

Heat grill to medium-low; lightly oil grates. Grill lamb, covered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of meat registers 130 degrees for medium-rare, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Remove from grill. Tent with aluminum foil; let rest 5 minutes.

Thinly slice lamb, and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

The Weeknight Gourmet's 100th Post!

I started this cooking blog one night in late January and really wasn’t sure how it would be received or if I’d enjoy writing it.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the positive reception from my readers and how much I enjoy communicating my culinary adventures.  I love when one of my posts inspires someone to cook a homemade meal.  I love noticing certain trends in what I cook and what ingredients I use.  I always knew I used a lot of garlic but never realized how many of my recipes rely on cumin!  I love checking my blog stats to see which recipes draw the most interest.  Based on my page views, people love curry and turkey burgers.

Most of all, I hope that, in some small way, the recipes I post can help create for others the special moments and conversations I experienced around the dinner table as a child with my mom, dad, and brother and as an adult with Tim, our friends, and extended family.

Here are my top 10 favorite posts (in no particular order). Would love to hear from you — please tell me your favorite recipes that you’ve cooked from the blog!

1) Summer Kickoff BBQ…RIBS

2) The Super Bowl Cake

3) Birthday Dinner for Angus

4) Black Bean Burgers with Guacamole Salad

5) A Must Make Dish: Mahi Mahi in Tomato Olive Sauce

6) My Gastronomical Discoveries in Northern CA

7) First BBQ of the Year: Grilled Herbed Baby Lamb Chops with Asparagus Salad

8) Dinner for Kaylin’s Parents: Turkey & Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

9) Tribute to Domino

10) Spice Rubbed Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Cream