Chef Victor Casanova perfectly pairs his spicy grilled lamb chops with small balls of refreshing mint pesto fregola.
FOR THE MINT PESTO:
3 cups fresh mint leaves
2 garlic cloves
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 tbsp. Pecorino Romano, grated
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. marcona almonds
Sicilian salt, to taste
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (we recommend DaVero Dry Creek Estate)
1/2 cup ice cubes, as needed
FOR THE PIMENTÓN OIL:
3 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp pimenton
1/2 tsp. sea salt
FOR THE FREGOLA:
1 lb. Sardinian fregola
1 carrot, finely minced
1 stalk of celery, finely minced
1 shallot, finely minced
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
4 tbsp. currants
2 tbsp. marcona almonds, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
FOR THE LAMB CHOPS:
16 lamb chops
Salt and pepper
1. For the mint pesto: Combine mint, garlic, zest, juice, pepper, almonds, and a couple of ice cubes in a high-speed blender and turn on medium speed.
2. Slowly drizzle in extra-virgin olive oil until you have a smooth puree with a bright green color. The ice cubes are intended to control the heat in the blender. Season to taste.
3. For the pimenton oil: Combine all ingredients in a saucepot over low heat. When the oil starts to lightly bubble, take off heat and let steep, covered, for 1 hour.
4. Strain through a chinois lined with a coffee filter.
5. For the fregola: In a large pot of boiling water, add uncooked fregola and cook until al dente.
6. Strain, reserving 1 cup of water for later use, then lightly toss with olive oil and reserve on a half sheet pan at room temperature.
7. In a small rondeau, turn heat to low and add 3-4 tbsp. olive oil to coat the pan. Add carrot, celery, garlic, and shallot.
8. Cook on low to medium heat until the mixture is blond and well developed. About 5-10 minutes. Raise the heat slightly and add almonds and currants, then mix in well. When the currants are nice and plump, add fregola. Add 1 cup of pasta water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Season to taste and reserve.
9. For the lamb chops: Heat the grill. Season all lamb chops with salt and pepper. Cook the lamb chops on the grill to medium rare and reserve.
10. To asemble: Put 4 dinner plates in an oven set at 350° for 2 minutes then bring to countertop. In the center of each plate, add 3 tbsp. of the fregola. Then top with the 4 lamb chops, drizzle the lamb with the pimenton oil, and add about 1 tbsp. of mint pesto around the perimeter of the plate.