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rack of lamb with bacon ramp pesto

RACK OF LAMB WITH BACON-RAMP PESTO IS THE TASTE OF SPRING

When you combine two fabulous Spring ingredients like lamb and ramps, you know you’ve got Spring on a plate!  Rack of Lamb with Bacon-Ramp Pesto is delicious when paired with asparagus and pesto-coated pasta, it’s perfection.  And oh so pretty!

Roasting a rack of lamb is a snap once you’ve got the correct roasting/resting times.  Honestly, making the Bacon-Ramp Pesto is actually the most time consuming part of this recipe.

The whole thing comes together, with pasta and asparagus, in well under an hour!  So, this is no sweat to make for a lovely late-Friday evening dinner, is it?

 

FOR PERFECTLY ROASTED RACK OF LAMB – Start at room temperature!

I am a real stickler when it comes to how to eat a wonderful rack of lamb.  Especially if you’ve gone to the trouble of making Rack of Lamb with Bacon-Ramp Pesto. 

rack of lamb with bacon-ramp pesto

If you like you lamb rare, you’ll want to roast it for 20 minutes, total.  Medium-rare takes a few minutes more, at 25 minutes. 

This cooking time takes into account the 15 minutes of “resting” time you’ll want to give your lamb before cutting it into chops for plating. 

When I say 20 minutes, what I mean is, EXACTLY 20 minutes.  Same goes for medium-rare at 25 minutes roasting time. 

That’s why it’s so important to start with room temperature meat.  It takes the guessing out of the correct roasting time for Rack of Lamb with Bacon-Ramp Pesto.

 

RACK OF LAMB WITH BACON-RAMP PESTO – First, you’ll have to find some ramps!

how to find harvest and eat rampsYou’ll definitely want to read the post on Spring ramps before making this recipe.  It gives you all the information you’ll need on how to find, harvest and eat ramps.

They’re absolutely worth their weight in gold, as far as I’m concerned.

You can check it out by clicking this link:  Wild Leek Season is Almost Here! How to Find Harvest and Eat Ramps

Since wild Spring leeks (ramps) love altitudes above 3000 feet, I’ve found myself in ramp heaven since moving to our new home on top of a mountain in Western North Carolina.

 

IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, BUT YOU’VE GOT TO KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED

Last Spring as I was driving up the mountain, I spotted a huge area of dark green down one of the slopes.  They looked like ramps, but I couldn’t be sure. 

A few days later as I was walking April, our Boston Terrier, I decided to get a closer look.  Lo and behold, I  found the largest patch of ramps that I had ever seen in my life.  I was in ramp heaven!

field of ramps growing

Later that day I set out with my foraging basket and spent a lovely hour or so, carefully harvesting my newest find.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take a camera along with me!  Trust me, I stumbled on the “mother lode”.  I know some “shroomers” in my local mushroom group that would have fainted at the mere site of my find.

If you can’t forage for your own Spring ramps, head to your farmer’s market the day they open, and you just may find some tucked among the radishes and asparagus.  Rack of Lamb with Bacon-Ramp Pesto is definitely worth hunting down some of these tender morsels.

 

LET’S GET STARTED WITH THE BACON-RAMP PESTO, SHALL WE?

Once you’ve got your bacon diced, you can cook it off while blanching your ramps.  Then the whole thing comes together really quickly afterhow to find harvest and eat ramps sauteing your ramps and garlic to bring the sweetness out of the Spring wild leeks.

I usually busy myself toasting the pine nuts, dicing the bacon and grating the cheese while the lamb is coming to room temperature. 

Better yet, if I’m planning on serving this dish for Easter, I’ll make the Bacon-Ramp Pesto a few days ahead.  The dish comes together in less than 30 minutes and looks like you spent hours!

Popping all the ingredients into the food processor makes fast work of turning ramps and bacon into a lovely sauce to coat your Rack of Lamb with Bacon-Ramp Pesto.

It just takes a slathering of the pesto over top your beautiful rack of lamb to finish off this fabulous dish.  Pop it into the oven, and out comes a lovely Spring dinner entree!

 

MAKE A QUICK PASTA SIDE DISH USING THE SAME BACON-RAMP PESTO

Since you’ve already made a fabulous homemade sauce, why not double-down and use it on your side-dish pasta too?

rack of lamb with bacon ramp pesto

It’s a simple matter of cooking off your pasta, then combining it with some butter and pesto.  A quick toss to coat the noodles, a smattering of toasted pine nuts, and it’s ready to serve under your sliced Rack of Lamb with Bacon-Ramp Pesto.

And while you’re at it, why not roast a bunch of asparagus spears to round out a meal fit for your Spring celebration dinner table. 

 

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Rack of lamb with bacon ramp pesto

Rack of Lamb with Bacon-Ramp Pesto

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

What a luxurious way to welcome Spring! Using two fabulous Spring ingredients like Ramps (wild leeks) and Lamb make for a fabulous Spring dinner!

Ingredients

  • BACON-RAMP PESTO
  • 12 oz. bacon, diced
  • 3 cups ramps, trimmed (about 3 large bunches)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
  • 2/3 - 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Racks of Lamb (2 servings per rack) ("Frenched" if desired- see note)
  • 16 oz. fresh wide-cut pasta
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup Bacon-Ramp Pesto
  • Toasted pine nuts for garnish

Instructions

1. Bring lamb to room temperature on a foil lined baking pan before roasting.

BACON-RAMP PESTO

2. Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When browned, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper toweling. Remove all but 3 Tbs. bacon fat.

3. Blanch ramps for 1 minute in a large pot of boiling salted water. Remove and immediately immerse in an ice water bath. When cool, drain, blotting off all extra moisture. Roughly chop bulbs and greens.

4. Add ramps and garlic, salt and pepper to bacon pan and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, but not browned.

5. Remove from heat and let cool. In the bowl of a food processor place vegetable mixture, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Pulse on/off a few times to combine ingredients. Turn machine on low and slowly pour in 2/3 cup olive oil. Stop machine, scrape down sides, taste and adjust salt and pepper. If mixture is too thick or dry, start machine and add remaining 1/3 cup olive oil. (Can be kept refrigerated for up to 7 days.)

ASSEMBLY

6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. F. Spread pesto evenly over the entire top of the lamb racks. Roast lamb EXACTLY 20 minutes for rare or 25 minutes for medium-rare.

7. Remove lamb from oven and cover with foil. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then cut into individual ribs.

8. While lamb is resting, cook pasta al dente, per package directions. Drain pasta and put back in pan. Add butter and pesto and mix with a pair of tongs until pasta is well coated. Add more pesto if needed. Check seasoning for salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm until time to plate lamb.

9. Serve individual lamb chops on a bed of Bacon-Pesto Pasta.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 1258Total Fat 66gSaturated Fat 23gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 43gCholesterol 159mgCarbohydrates 45gFiber 3gSugar 2gProtein 64g
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