Rack of Lamb with Arugula Pesto and Orange Balsamic Drizzle

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One thing I love about America is the culinary influence that flows from all parts of this earth.  We really are a melting pot, and it makes the world a smaller place when you can travel to another region of the world using only your fork.  It is also interesting to see how some of the renditions of these cuisines get blurred a little in their translations.

Take for example, Greek food.  Our interpretation of the way Greeks eat would have you expecting nothing but hummus, lamb, and baklava when you stepped off of the plane in Athens.  But until my husband moved with me back to the US, he’d never even heard of hummus.  It’s more of a middle eastern thing.  And while you might see baklava every now and again, the credit for that treat would be more appropriately resigned to Turkish cuisine.


Americans might picture Greek dinner tables set with a roasted lamb every evening, but this also isn’t a very accurate depiction of the way Greeks eat.  Sure, if you travel to Greece on Easter, you’d be hard pressed to find a backyard not roasting a whole lamb on the spit- but beyond that it’s just really not that prevalent.

Mind blown?  I know, it took me a while to accept it as well.


One place they do eat loads of lamb (I’m assuming, although I’ve never visited so I could be interpreting incorrectly!) is Australia.  It’s where we get a lot of the lamb we eat in the states, and it’s what I look for when I’m purchasing it.  That’s because lamb raised in Australia and New Zealand have been allowed to graze on their natural diet of grass, unlike American lamb which are typically fed grain.

Roasting a rack of lamb might seem intimidating the first time you do it, but it’s so hard to mess it up. Honestly.  And topped with this peppery arugula pesto.. it’s out of this world.  Feels fancy but it’s really not that hard to pull together.


And this arugula pesto is my jam… so much better than your grandmother’s mint jelly (no offense to your grandmother!).  Its bite pairs perfectly with the flavor of the lamb.  Top it off with a drizzle of reduced orange juice and balsamic vinegar and you’ll be asking yourself why it took you so long to fall in love with lamb.


Rack of Lamb with Arugula Pesto and Orange Balsamic Drizzle
Serves 4
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For the lamb
  1. 1 8-ribbed frenched rack of lamb
  2. 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  3. few sprigs rosemary
  4. 2 tbs whole grain mustard
  5. 1/4 cup olive oil
  6. salt and pepper
For the pesto
  1. 1.5 cups arugula
  2. 1/2 cup basil
  3. 2 cloves garlic
  4. 2 tbs parmesan
  5. 1/4 cup walnuts
  6. squeeze of 1/2 lemon + zest
  7. 1/4 cup (or more) olive oil
  8. black pepper and salt to taste
For the drizzle
  1. 1/3 cup orange juice (juice from 1-2 oranges)
  2. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
  4. salt
  5. sprig rosemary
  1. In a Ziploc bag, place lamb, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary.  Seal and allow lamb to marinate, refrigerated, for a few hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 375. Heat an oven proof pan (I use a cast iron skillet) to high heat.  Remove lamb from Ziploc and score fat with a knife.  Spread mustard over lamb and sear both sides in hot pan.  Transfer pan with lamb (fat side up) into oven.  (You can cover bones in tin foil to prevent burning for better presentation).  Roast for 20-25 minutes for medium rare, or until lamb reaches 135.
  3. While lamb is roasting, combine all ingredients for pesto into a food processor.  Pulse until smooth, adding more oil if needed. Transfer to serving dish.
  4. In small saucepan, add the orange juice, balsamic, and rosemary sprig. Stir and reduce until the sauce starts to thicken, then remove the rosemary and add in the butter or ghee and continue to cook until the sauce thickens more. Taste and add salt to your preference.
  5. After letting meat rest for 10 minutes, slice into chops.  Serve with pesto and a drizzle of sauce.
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