Somewhere in Twitterland…
I recently struck up a conversation with @noisecolourlife regarding coconut oil of all things. Turns out, that dialogue morphed into an idea for a Paleo cooking challenge with national pride at stake. She lives in Melbourne, Australia (future travel destination?), and I’m here in Southern California. Iron Chef Transcontinental Paleo Smackdown, anyone?! ;) (this really is a friendly collaboration)
After a bit of idea-swapping, we decided to each create a Paleo recipe (we both happen to also be doing a round of Whole30) using two common ingredients: lamb and cumin (insert mmmmm here). Other than that…free reign. I chose lamb because I’ve never bought/cooked it (say what?!), and let’s just say that being quite Type A, I tend to perform well under pressure. The other stipulations are tracking meal cost and making some other poor soul sample and give comments on our meal.
Enter my wild card…the CSA box. Each Tuesday, I pick up a box of farm fresh, organic, local veggies from Suzie’s Farm at CF Invictus so decided to also integrate something from the box into my meal. Not wanting to copy any recipes, I made something up off the top of my head but with a few considerations: it had to be easy to make with minimal ingredients (stupid-easy, as always).
Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Chop over Kale with Roasted Veggies
1 lb lamb loin chops (grass-fed)
10 oz kale (I get the pre-washed, pre-chopped)
1 lb carrots
1 head cauliflower
3 cloves garlic
1/2 lb red okra*
1 large white onion*
1 cup cherry tomatoes*
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted pistachios
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp South African Smoke seasoning**
1-2 tbsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
*CSA veggies (seasonal veg are best)
**Combination of smoked paprika flakes, garlic, basil, salt
1. Set the oven to 385 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil.
2. Prep the veggies (wash first, of course): halve the carrots and split lengthwise, cut tops off okra, cut cauliflower into florets, slice onions, halve cherry tomatoes, rough-chop the garlic, and slice handful of mint leaves into chiffonade (really thin slices).
3. Place carrots and okra on one baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss.
4. Place cauliflower on the other sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 tbsp cumin and 2 tbsp cocoa powder. Toss.
5. Put veggies in the oven to roast while you prep the rest of the meal. Roast ~20 minutes or until caramelized and softened.
6. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Saute garlic for ~1 minute. Add kale, onion and tomatoes and 1/4 c. water. Place lid on and steam for 5-8 minutes or until fork tender.
7. While kale is cooking…chop pistachios. I used a food pro (but be inventive…put them in a plastic baggie and pulverize with a rolling pin for example). You want a small enough texture that it will stick to the lamb chops but not too fine that it creates a paste. Mix in 2 tbsp South African Smoke seasoning and 1 tbsp garlic. Dump out onto a large plate. Dredge the lamb chops in the pistachio mixture, applying pressure so that it sticks to all sides of the chops.
8. Remove kale from heat and place in a serving bowl.
9. Using the same skillet, heat to high and add 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Sear lamb chops on both sides for approx. 3 minutes each. DO NOT OVERCOOK! You are searing the outside to make a crispy crust, not cooking all the way through. Tough lamb = no bueno. Remove to a glass baking dish.
10. Remove roasted veggies from the oven. Set oven to broil (on high). Broil lamb for ~2-3 minutes per side to finish. Medium-rare is the farthest you want to cook this.
11. Assemble your delicious meal. Sprinkle chopped mint on the carrots and okra. Serve lamb over a bed of the kale.
I volun-told my husband into eating this (of course he would have had some anyway). His take: the cumin was present but not overpowering, and he really liked the roasted veggies. And oh…the tender lamb?? He wasn’t used to lamb being so “soft” but thought it tasted great [Note: Dan grew up on a farm. His family raised sheep. He has eaten tons of lamb…apparently all overcooked…] and was keen on the cripsy pistachio crust.
For being a lamb newbie, I was totally impressed by the quality of the Trader Joe’s grass-fed lamb…rich dark color and so incredibly tender (go Kiwis!). The chops were a little on the expensive side, so I’d likely save them for a special occasion meal. Most of the items were purchased at Trader Joe’s but almost everything could be found in a conventional market, save the South African Smoke blend (but easy to replicate using the aforementioned spices).
Here is the meal total (good for four adult dinner portions):
Lamb loin chops: $11.72
1 lb bag organic carrots: $0.79
4 oz pistachios: $2.49
1 head cauliflower: $0.79
1 package organic mint: $1.79 (used half in the meal s0 really $0.85)
10 oz kale $1.99
South African Smoke seasoning $2.29
(The other veg, spices and oil I had on hand)
Grand total: $21.01 / 4 = $5.25 per serving…pretty good bargain!
I absolutely cannot wait to see what @noisecolourlife is cooking up!!! Australia vs. US Paleo Challenge #1 is what I’m calling this because there will be more! And, this is the perfect way to kick off the new blog…happy cooking y’all!