TAKES 1 HOUR 30 MINUTES
Lamb, once you get into mid to late summer - and certainly in autumn and winter - marries incredibly well with Mediterranean flavours. Grilled cutlets accompanied by orzo tossed in a luscious sauce of peppers and tomato, olives, fragrant cinnamon and oregano, fresh chopped parsley and dill with a crumbling of feta as a final flourish. An excellent send off to summer and a reminder in the darker days of winter that the sun will be back.
While you could of course prepare this dish in the spring, it's worth remembering, that spring lamb is much more delicate in flavour and can get a bit lost in a dish like this. Better to serve with fresh spring vegetables tossed in olive oil or butter with a light sprinkling of sea salt.
1. Remove the lamb cutlets from the fridge 1 hour before you want to cook, allowing them to come to room temperature.
2. In a bowl, scatter the cutlets with the garlic powder, a pinch of salt and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Set aside to marinade whilst you prepare the rest.
3. In a large pot or sauté pan, add in the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and set on a medium heat, place in the diced onions and cook down until softened, add in the garlic and cinnamon stick, continue to fry until the everything is smelling fragrant but don’t let the garlic burn.
4. Add in the tomato pasta and cook out for 4 minutes then pour in the tinned tomatoes and stock.
5. Add in the ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, oregano and brown sugar. Season the sauce to taste with a little salt and pepper at this stage. Stir well to help the spices dissolve and slowly bring to a rolling simmer, turn down the heat slightly and let the sauce blip away for 30 minutes to thicken.
6. Whilst the sauce is reducing, set a pot of well-salted water onto boil, add in the orzo and cook until al dente. Retain a mug of the starchy water and drain the rest. Drizzle with a little olive oil to help keep the pasta loose whilst you finish the rest of the dish.
7. At this stage the sauce should have thickened nicely, add in the chopped peppers and olives, stir well to combine and cook for another 15 minutes until the peppers have softened slightly, this will make them lovely and sweet.
8. Remove the cinnamon stick and add in the spinach, along with half of the chopped herbs right at the end, stir to help the spinach wilt into the sauce then pour in the cooked orzo. Mix well so all the sauce and veg coat the orzo pieces nicely. Add a splash of the pasta water to help loosen if needed. Turn off the heat and let everything rest whilst you cook the lamb cutlets – this can be eaten at room temperature or even cold if you wish!
9. Set a skillet or griddle pan on a high heat, once smoking carefully place a few of the lamb cutlets, fat side down into the pan (you may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan) render the fat down for 1 minute before placing them side down, cook on one side for 5 minutes then flip over and cook for a further 4 minutes. This is for lamb that is still slightly blushing in the middle – if you want them cooked a little more, keep in the pan for an extra 3 minutes. Remove and set aside to rest whilst you do the same with the next batch. Allow the cutlets to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
10. Spoon a generous portion of the vegetable orzo on to a plate and top with a couple of the lamb cutlets. Scatter the remaining parsley and dill all over the dish, finish with a crumbling of feta cheese and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!
• 8 lamb cutlets
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 300g orzo pasta
• 2 red onions, diced
• 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
• 1 tsp tomato paste
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp ground coriander
• ½ tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp brown sugar
• 2 tsp dried oregano
• 400g can chopped tomatoes
• 200ml chicken/veg stock
• 1 red pepper, cut into rough chunks
• 1 green pepper, cut into rough chunks
• 200g black pitted olives
• 200g spinach
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Handful of chopped parsley
• Handful of chopped dill
• Feta cheese, for crumbling
• Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling