Walnut Cilantro Pesto Lamb with Quinoa

Once again, I apologize for the lack of finished product photos. I just can not keep up with food blogger breathren…once I get rolling in the kitchen…I just can’t stop. I need to start vlogging…but that’s a discussion for another day.

TODAY I’ll share with you a fresh lamb recipe I concocted tonight. The lamb chops were a steal at COSTCO and a welcomed change from the usual. In the pesto I used cilantro which adds a fresh zing, but if you don’t like cilantro, substitute fresh basil instead.

It started because I had whole walnuts and cilantro in the fridge –  I try very hard to make sure that my refrigerator is NOT the place where good food goes to die, so I was desperate to put these two ingredients together.  I also had blue cheese crumbles too…and I thought long and hard about using these with my lamb…but decided that I would just use it on our salad instead.

A couple of things: I really believe that with pestos, fresh herbs make all the difference. Some people use dried herbs, but in pestos, where the whole point is freshness, you’re really ripping yourself off.

So – here’s how it went down:

Total Prep: 1.5 hours

Total Cook: 40 minutes

For Pesto:

Add the following to food processor or blender.

3/4 cup of walnuts

3/4 cup fresh cilantro (or if you HATE cilantro, use fresh basil)

1/4 cup fresh thyme

1/4 cup fresh rosemary

1 large garlic bulb (I loove garlic..this might be a little heavy for some)

1 small thai pepper  (optional)

1/2 lemon (for squeezing in the pesto)

Extra virgin olive oil

sea salt to taste

fresh cracked pepper

Blend to preferred texture, adding olive oil as needed.

I like my pesto to have some meat and texture to it, so I don’t over-process. In fact, for this particular pesto, I used the blender, not the food processor, that keeps it “earthy” in texture.

Lightly coat lamb with olive oil, salt and pepper then cover each side with the pesto. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes…the longer the better.

For Quinoa:

Chicken Stock similar water/quinoa proportions as rice.


finely chopped garlic

Cook quinoa as you would rice, low heat until all the moisture is absorbed. I use chicken stock because it adds depth to the taste. Reminds me of risotto.

Preheat oven to 350

Heat dry pan at least 10 minutes until hot. Place lamb chops in pan and let the pesto brown, 2-3 minutes each side. You can toss in a little red wine vinegar to deglaze the inevitable tasty bits at the bottom of the pan. Do not over crowd the pan. Better to do two batches of the lamb chops than to over crowd.

Once each side of all the lamb chops has a nice brown crust, add more pesto over the top of the lamb chop. I used a pyrex glass dish to cook, but a roasting pan with a little extra red wine vinegar in the bottom would be nice too.*You could also grill the lamb chops with the pesto, which I think would be FABULOUS. Cook lamb until inner temperature 120 degrees, then cook for about 10 more minutes (for medium rare). Remove from oven, leave in pan, tented for another 10 minutes.

Serve with warm quinoa.

I also like to added mixed greens with blue cheese to my plate, so all the flavors blend. The textures of the quinoa and mixed greens along with the pesto was fantastic.


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About Tara DeWitt Coomans

An aspiring cook and an accomplished eater, Tara is inspired by the world around her and the food on her plate. "When you can't jump on a plane and take a vacation to an exotic destination, chances are you can whip up a dish or go to a restaurant that will take you there." says Tara. She often eats out at a restaurant after trying to accomplish a given dish at home. None the less, she enjoys food and what it says about the human experience. Tara is a full-time freelance writer and blogger. She specializes in writing about food, cooking and travel. You can find her in the kitchen, on the plane or at her computer.