Pesto-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Roasted Plums
This rack of lamb has a basil, mint and almond pesto crust. It’s easy to make but so special. The accompanying plums are roasted in the same pan as the rack of lamb, making the whole dish super-simple but super-delicious. This post is part of a year-long series of wine paired recipes that I have been hired by Columbia Crest to develop. To see all my Columbia Crest wine-paired recipes, click here.
There’s something about lamb that is just plain special. And no cut is more special than a rack of lamb.
The great thing about a rack of lamb is that it’s really easy to cook, looks amazing when it comes out of the oven and it’s wonderful to carve and serve as lamb chops to a group of people.
One rack of lamb typically serves two people with a couple of chops leftover to gnaw on late at night. This recipe uses two racks of lamb so that you can serve it to guests. But feel free to halve the recipe and enjoy it on your own.
For this lamb recipe you make a quick and easy pesto using lamb’s favorite herb, mint, along with basil and almonds. Then you make a crust of Panko breadcrumbs with lemon zest. The pesto is spread on the rack of lamb and then sprinkled with the panko crumbs.
The rack of lamb is nestled in among halved plums that have been tossed with honey and lemon. The plums roast alongside the lamb and are a wonderful complement to the meat.
And both the lamb and the plums are also a wonderful complement to the fruit-forward Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot Columbia Valley wine. The richness of the meat and the intense sweet-and-sour notes of the roasted plums bring out the fruit-flavors and the luscious texture of the wine.
Serve this rack of lamb for Easter or on any special spring evening.
For an easy, elegant dessert to serve with this lamb, be sure to check out my recipe for chocolate lava cake with blackberry wine sauce.
Here’s my recipe for Mint and Basil Pesto-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Roasted Plums:
Rack of lamb is the perfect entree for a special occasion. This simple version is layered with flavors like mint, basil, almond, garlic, lemon and plum. The richness of the meat and the intense sweet-and-sour notes of the roasted plums are particularly lovely when paired with a bottle of Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot Columbia Valley wine.
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- ½ oz. parmesan cheese, finely grated (about ½ cup)
- 5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup finely chopped almonds
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- ¾ tsp. salt, divided
- 2–1.5lb frenched racks of lamb
- ½ cup loosely packed basil leaves
- ½ cup loosely packed mint leaves
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, divided
- 1 clove garlic
- 5 red plums, halved and pitted
- 3 Tbsp. honey
- Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl combine the panko, parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, almonds, lemon zest and ¼ teaspoon of the salt.
- Place the racks of lamb meat side up in a single layer in a large roasting pan. In a food processor combine the basil, mint, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the garlic and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Puree until smooth. Spread onto the top meat of the racks of lamb. Sprinkle meat evenly with the panko mixture, pressing with your fingers to help it adhere to the pesto.
- In a medium bowl combine the plums with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of water, the honey and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Pour the plums and the liquid mixture around the racks of lamb in the roasting pan.
- Roast for 20 minutes. Check the bottom of the pan. If the plum juices are darkening and/or drying up, add 2 tablespoons of hot water and swirl it around the pan. Roast until lamb has reached desired temperature on an instant read thermometer, about 5-10 minutes more for medium-rare (135°F) or 10-15 minutes more for medium (145°F). Let rest for 5-10 minutes before carving. If crumbs fall off of the racks while carving, be sure to spoon them back onto the portions before serving.
Disclosure: I was paid by Columbia Crest Winery to develop this recipe to pair with their wine, to photograph the recipe, post it on my blog and promote it on social media. They also provided me with wine to help develop the recipe and determine a good pairing. All opinions are my own.