Simple Elegant Easter Recipes: Walnut Encrusted Lamb with Asparagus
Preparation for Spring begins as the end of the cold, blustery winter season draws near. Hearty, warm meals make way for lighter ones to complement the upcoming thaw. Spring is a time for awakening and growth, as fresh fruits and vegetables begin to reappear at the farmer’s markets. In fact, the produce arrives just in time to create the perfect Easter dinner – a daunting task for many. However, the recipes below are the answer to creating a wonderful holiday meal that won’t leave you slaving over a stove for hours.
Lamb is a delicious choice as a traditional item on the spring holiday menu. Walnut Encrusted Lamb is an easy yet thoughtful main course. The garlic, fresh herbs and honey mustard sauce give the meat an extra kick. The coating of walnuts adds crunch, not to mention a dose of heart healthy omega-3s (2.5 grams per ounce).
Asparagus is one of the most versatile vegetables during the spring season and makes a tasty side dish for the Walnut Encrusted Lamb. Asparagus Spears with Walnut Gremolata is a side dish that looks and tastes like a million bucks (or calories), but won’t hurt your wallet (or waistline). This recipe takes ten minutes to prepare but is just as delectable as any complicated endeavor. The gremolata is fragrant yet mild, with a slight sweetness from the walnuts and a hint of lemon zest that harmonizes with the crisp asparagus.
Walnut Encrusted Lamb
2 pounds rack of lamb, frenched
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup California walnuts, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup spicy honey mustard
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Sprinkle racks of lamb with salt and pepper.
In large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat sear racks of lamb until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a roasting pan and let cool slightly.
In small bowl, combine walnuts, thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper with a fork. Stir in oil until well combined. Using a pastry brush, rub mustard all over lamb. Press walnut mixture onto mustard to form a crust. Roast in the center of preheated oven until medium rare, about 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut between the bones and serve 2 - 3 chops per person. Makes about 4 servings.
*Frenching defined: Upper ends of the rib bones are trimmed (and sometimes capped with decorative covers known as frills) creating one of the most distinctive cuts of lamb.
Asparagus Spears with Walnut Gremolata
1 pound asparagus spears (about 16-20 spears)
½ cup California walnuts
½ cup parsley sprigs, lightly packed
1 medium lemon, zested
1/8 teaspoon minced or pressed garlic
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Finely chop walnuts to the size of rice grains, to make about 1/3 cup. Place on a dry baking sheet. Bake 5-7 minutes until lightly toasted, stirring once or twice. Cool. While the walnuts are toasting, prepare the asparagus. Rinse and trim tough ends from asparagus. Place in a wide skillet. Add cold water to nearly cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer uncovered 3-5 minutes, turning several times until asparagus is just barely tender. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water. Drain again and set aside. Rinse parsley and pat dry between sheets of paper towel. Finely chop to measure 1/4 cup. Place in a small bowl. Remove yellow part of lemon zest with a zester or fine grater. Add to parsley. Stir in cooled walnuts, garlic, salt and pepper. To serve, set out four salad plates. Place 4-5 asparagus spears on each plate. Top each bundle of spears with about 2 tablespoons of gremolata and serve. Serves 4-5.
Reciped Courtesy of the California Walnut Board