The weekend leading up to Easter, my parents set aside time to color eggs with me, read to me about the meaning of Easter, and hide eggs in the very early hours of Easter Sunday morning. All of that beautiful and relaxing family time abruptly ended after morning church. I would rush them home as fast as possible to my grandparents’ house, where I tried to catch up with my cousins who were already towering their Easter baskets high with candy and money-filled plastic eggs. My mom and grandparents would work hurriedly all afternoon creating dinner and desserts for us. I’m sure they found themselves very frustrated when we all kept saying, “one more minute!” or, “I can’t eat yet, I’m looking for more eggs!” as the meal was getting cold. I’m sure they wondered why they even bothered slaving all afternoon on food when my Uncle Tom decided he would show up 45 minutes late in a ripped T-shirt, or my older cousins had to always eat and run.
Growing up in this quirky family has taught me a thing or two about entertaining and cooking for holidays. I’ve learned that simple is better, and the best holiday and party food is the kind that can be cooked passively or in five minutes flat. My Armenian and Italian family often ate lamb on Easter, so I married the two sides by marinating single lamb chops the night before in mint, parsley, lemon, garlic and other spices. The chops are small and thin, so they can be cooked up quickly (and in batches, if necessary), so the food is ready to eat when the family is. I pair the lamb with a simple raw arugula salad and Middle Eastern spiced potatoes, which are affordable and abundant in the area. Lamb is best eaten right away, so have someone start plating the salad and potatoes as you sear the lamb chops. Once everyone is at the table, the lamb will be ready and can be placed on top.
Middle-‘Easter’n Lamb Chops w/ Potatoes & Arugula
Ingredients (for the lamb):
- 8 Lamb Lollipops (single lamb chops) – about 1-1.5 lbs
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil (divided)
- Juice from 1/2 large lemon or 1 small lemon
- 2 tsp. Coriander
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced or microplaned
- 2 Tbsp. Fresh Mint, chopped
- 1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. Cracked Black Pepper
Ingredients (for the potatoes):
- 6 large Yukon Gold Potatoes
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Paprika
- 1/4 tsp. Cumin
- 1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
- 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
Ingredients (for the salad):
- 4 handfuls of Arugula
- Mint & Parsley Leaves
- Lemon Wedges & Olive Oil for Drizzling
- To prepare the marinade, add ¼ cup of olive oil to the other marinade ingredients. Mix together with a spoon or fork and place in a shallow dish. If the chops haven’t been separated, cut them into single chops (one bone per chop). Lay the lamb chops in the marinade and press into the marinade on both sides of the meat. Cover and marinate in the fridge for the day or overnight, flipping the chops once or twice in between to make sure the marinade permeates all of the meat.
- Remove the lamb chops from the fridge and let them rest for about 30 minutes. While waiting on the lamb, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and peel and cube the potatoes (I cubed them into about ¾” cubes). In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, paprika, cumin, onion powder, and garlic powder. Toss the cubed potatoes in the mixture and coat well. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the potatoes on the sheet, being sure to have all potato cubes in contact with the parchment and not overlapping or on top of one another. Roast for 15-20 minutes, remove from the oven, and flip with a spatula. Return them to the oven and roast for another 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are crispy on the inside and soft and tender on the outside. Toss the potatoes with salt and set aside.
- Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil to a large stainless pan and set to medium-high heat on the stove top. Remove the lamb chops from the marinade and pat them dry on each side with a paper towel. Once the oil is hot, carefully lay the chops down into the oil, arranging so that they have a little space between them and aren’t touching. If the pan is too cramped or won’t fit all of the chops, work in two batches. Allow to sear for 2 minutes, then carefully flip one over with tongs. If the chop is nice and browned, flip all and allow the other side to sear for 2-3 minutes. The chops are thin, so they should cook fairly quickly. Once cooked on both sides, remove from the heat.
- Arrange bowls with handfuls of arugula, crispy potatoes, and a couple of lamb chops. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, and some chopped herbs, and serve immediately.