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Lamb with Olive Pesto

Lamb with Olive Pesto

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Serves 4 to 6.
By Dennis W. Viau; an original recipe.

Lamb seems like a better meat with which to be creative because, unlike beef, the flavor is so distinct. For this recipe I used a favorite kind of olive—sun dried and oil cured—that I can only find in an Italian grocery down in the city. The olives have a strong and rich flavor. When using milder olives, the pesto won’t be as intense.

Ingredients:

For the Pesto: (this makes a lot)
2 ounces (57g) pine nuts (walnuts or almonds can be substituted)
2 ounces (57g) fresh basil leaves, stems removed
2 to 3 cloves garlic
½ to ¾ cup (118 to 177ml) extra virgin olive oil
½ cup (2 ounces/57g) grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
10 to 15 black olives, pitted, or any favorite type of olive
For the Pasta and Lamb:
1 pound (454g) fettuccine or other flat noodles (or make your own from scratch*)
Pure (cooking) olive oil, as needed for sautéing
2 to 3 cloves garlic; minced
Optional: 2 to 3 anchovy fillets
1 pound (454g) lean lamb; thinly sliced
6 to 8 ounces (170 to 227g) artichoke hearts; sliced
Salt and pepper, if needed

Directions:

To make the pesto: place the nuts, basil leaves, and garlic in a sturdy plastic bag, such as a 1-gallon ziplock bag, and crush the leaves using a mallet or the smooth part of a tenderizing mallet. The leaves should be bruised well enough to release their juice. Transfer to a food processor and add the oil, cheese, and olives. Purée until smooth.

Bring water to a boil and start the noodles cooking according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and optional anchovies. Cook about a minute, breaking up the anchovies. Add the thinly sliced lamb and sauté until partially cooked and still pink. Add the artichoke hearts and cook about a minute longer, until the lamb is nearly cooked but still slightly pink. Remove from the heat and add several spoonsful of the pesto. Additional extra virgin olive oil can also be added, if desired.

Arrange noodles on plates. Spoon the lamb mixture over the pasta and serve. Can be garnished with additional extra virgin olive oil.

*See Pasta From Scratch in Basics in the Recipe Archive.