Sunday Dinner: Easter Edition

I really wanted to keep it low-key this Easter. However, to me low-key doesn’t mean that a delicious meal can’t be involved. I woke up without an alarm this morning (the best feeling!) and moseyed over to the Italian Market per the suggestion of my roommate, Danielle. I always go to Reading Terminal for fresh meat and produce, yet I tend to forget that the Italian Market, which has all the same offerings, is in my backyard.

For those who are unfamiliar, the Italian Market takes up several blocks of 9th Street in South Philly. I love the way the business owners set up their produce, flowers, and other goods outside of their storefronts. It’s especially lovely on warm, sunny days like today. Plus, I’m all about supporting mom and pop shops whenever possible.

I was on a mission for rack of lamb, and picked up some other things along the way. For some reason, I always associate Easter with rack of lamb, and I always associate rack of lamb with root vegetables. Thus, I decided to make both with the addition of mushroom “quinotto” (quinoa risotto). I concocted the latter a while back and it was seriously to die for.

PART 1: BALSAMIC OVEN-ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES

What you’ll need:

  • A variety of root vegetables, peeled and chopped into pieces of similar thickness to ensure that all pieces are cooked through (I opted for carrots, parsnips, beets, purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, and fingerling potatoes)
  • 1 shallot, cut into quarters
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Italian herb blend
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 6 sprigs of thyme

What you’ll do:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Combine all ingredients (minus the sprigs of thyme) in a large bowl; mix well
  • Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet, placing the sprigs of thyme on top
  • Cook in the oven for 45 minutes; halfway through, stir the vegetables around to ensure all pieces are cooked evenly
  • Remove from the oven, discard the sprigs of thyme, spoon into a serving bowl, and mix well

PART 2: MUSHROOM “QUINOTTO” (QUINOA RISOTTO)

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 1/2 lb. baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. grape seed oil
  • 1 tbsp. Italian herb blend
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup milk, half & half, or heavy cream (your choice)
  • 1 1/2 cups of an Italian cheese blend, grated

What you’ll do:

  • To make the perfect quinoa: combine 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a small pot, bring to a rolling boil, turn the heat to its lowest setting, apply the lid, cook on low heat for 15 minutes, remove from heat, allow to sit for 5 minutes, remove the lid, and fluff with a fork
  • While the quinoa is cooking, add baby bella mushrooms, shallots, garlic, grape seed oil, Italian herb blend, and black pepper to a large pan; sautee on medium heat until everything is cooked through
  • Turn the heat to its lowest setting, and add the cheese and your choice of dairy; stir occasionally until the sauce thickens
  • Add the quinoa to the sauce; mix well and spoon into a serving bowl

PART 3: GARLIC AND HERB ENCRUSTED RACK OF LAMB

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb. rack of lamb (yields 8 pieces once cut)
  • 4 tbsp. grape seed oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped

What you’ll do:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F
  • Cover the rack of lamb with a moderate amount of sea salt and pepper
  • On a separate, large dish, combine 2 tbsp. grape seed oil, garlic, basil, parsley, and thyme
  • Put a large, dry pan on high heat for approximately two minutes; add 2 tbsp. of grape seed oil, being sure to cover the bottom of the pan
  • To brown the meat, add it to the pan, rotating each side every few minutes; total cook time on the pan should be approximately 10 minutes
  • Remove the meat from the pan, and brush on the garlic and herb mixture
  • Cook in the oven for approximately 15 minutes (this is if you like your meat medium-rare; if you prefer your meat more well done, cook for a longer period of time and use a kitchen thermometer if needed)
  • Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before cutting; once 10 minutes has passed, cut your rack of lamb into 8 pieces and arrange on a serving dish

This meal was hearty in the best way possible. Given that my belly is full of delicious comfort food and my Easter was just as relaxing as I’d hoped it would be, I can’t ask for much more on this lazy Sunday. Have a great week ahead, everyone!

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