Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lamb Chops, Insalada Caprese (with a twist), sauteed chard with onions & garlic

I have a great local source for lamb, and fortunately, everyone in the family loves it.
I will describe the preparation in the order I made it.  First up, Insalada Caprese:

We eat a lot of this in the summer.  I decided to add a new ingredient:  Japanese Eggplant.
one Japanese eggplant, skin removed and sliced into thin strips, cut in half
heirloom tomatoes (red and green)
fresh basil, stacked, rolled into a cylinder, and sliced crosswise
fresh mozzarella cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper
pesto (in this case, store-bought)

This is a Japanese eggplant.  They are long and skinny,
and seem to have less bitter juice than the large ones.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin, then slice thin strips.  I cut them crosswise to fit into my pan.  Spray a release agent on the eggplant strips and saute them until the flesh becomes slightly transparent.  Mine started to brown quite a bit.  I like them that way.  Eggplants are very good at absorbing oil so I try to watch them carefully as they cook.  I don't like to add much oil to the pan.

eggplant strips after cooking
Slice the tomatoes and set aside the red one.  I have little experience with the green heirloom variety so I wasn't sure if I had unripe green tomatoes (how do you tell??) or if they are just particularly tart.  I wanted to use them so I decided to sautee them on the griddle to mellow their flavor.

aren't they pretty?
They look like a kiwi-tomato hybrid.
Here are slices of the red tomato and mozzarella cheese

this is a stack of basil leaves, rolled into a cylinder,
which makes it easier to slice them crosswise without excessive bruising

all of the ingredients before assembling the salad

starting with a slice of eggplant, folded over, a dollip of pesto,
a slice of mozzarella, basil slices, a tomato slice, then start over
(I'm a little obsessive)

I'm even alternating the red and green tomatoes.
That's just how I roll.

The end result:  a gorgeous salad that tastes as good as it looks.
The eggplant addition was really excellent!

Next up:   Lamb Chops
8 lamb chops (they are small)
chopped garlic
grapeseed oil (I use this because it has a much higher flash point than olive oil)
balsamic vinegar
apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
smoked paprika

Place lamb chops in a pan or bowl.
Chop the garlic and place it in a small container that can be used for emulsifying dressing and marinade.  I added approximately 4 Tablespoons grapeseed oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, a dash of salt and pepper, a couple dashes each of tumeric and smoked paprika.  Shake the mixture to combine well.  Spoon over lamb chops, turning the chops frequently to assure good coverage of the marinade, and allow to sit at room temperature until ready to cook.

While these were marinating, I chopped half an onion, a shallot, and added the remainder of chopped garlic to a small bowl.  These will be used in the chard dish.  I washed and prepped the swiss chard yesterday and had it in a ziploc bag.  Here's a couple of pointers about prepping chard:

The stalks are crunchy and sometimes a bit "woody".  I usually remove the large central vein
Fold it to one side so the central vein is exposed
slice just next to the vein with a knife

This is what you have left!  Cut it crosswise into large pieces

If possible, spin it to remove excess moisture

store it with a folded paper towel in the bag to absorb moisture
Sorry, I digressed.  The chard was already prepped so that was one less step I had this evening. 
All my ingredients were placed near the stove.  
I wanted to cook the lamb first, then place it on a platter in a 225' oven to rest while the chard was prepared.

Lamb chops are very small so they don't need to cook long.  I think they are best on the grill, but since it is rainy and I'm too lazy to deal with firewood, I'm cooking on the stove.  No problem!  The main thing is: hot and fast.
I used a griddle this evening, but any good pan will do just fine.  My pan was a non-stick surface so I put a very small amount of grapeseed oil in it and allowed it to get really hot before placing the chops, 4 at a time, on the pan.  The lamb was cooked for 2.5 minutes per side!  See?  Really fast!

Here is my little cup (with lid) I used to mix the marinade.
Lamb chops in background.

Lamb chops were turned several times to assure a good coating of the marinade

The first set of chops hits the griddle
(can you see I am using the same one that was used for the eggplant and tomatoes?)
Less clean-up!

Here they are, resting in the oven until the meal is ready to be served.

Sauteed Chard:
7-8 large chard leaves
garlic, chopped
onion, chopped
shallot, chopped
olive oil

In a large wok, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add onions and shallots and cook until transparent, then add garlic.  Cook for one minute, then add all the chard.  It looks overwhelming at first.  Turn frequently with tongs and chard will begin to wilt.  You may want to cover for a couple of minutes to allow some steam to assist with the wilting.

Remove from wok.  Garnish with slivered almonds, if desired.

Here is our meal!  
I served mixed berries for dessert.
Note the dog-dish on the table (lower right)
She gets served dinner on the floor next to the table while we eat.
I guess everyone, dog included, likes to socialize during a meal!


  1. The dog bowl is a nice touch on the table. Love the chard recipe, and frankly everything else.

  2. Ha ha! I thought you might appreciate that. Although it is the same food she always gets, it tastes better when served from the dinner table.

  3. I think I need to start coming to your house for dinner! Looks YUMMY!!

  4. That "fiber" person is Laura - don't know why it comes up that way!