This simple recipe for Grilled Lamb Chops with Eggplant Puree, Tomatoes, Cucumbers + Crispy Chick Peas is a delicious and flavorful summer grilling recipe. It's high protein, low calorie, and totally gluten free!
With Memorial Day weekend now under our belts, the summer season, and hence grilling season, is unofficially-officially upon us. This is my favorite time of year. And I know, I tell you that fifteen thousand times every June. It's just that I get really fired up - no pun intended... okay, it was totally intended - about summertime stuff, because it turns me into a happier, healthier person. As soon as the sun starts shining and the weather warms up, I crave healthy food and being outside, while the rest of the year I just want to sit on the couch and eat cookies.
I hope you had a nice holiday and enjoyed the long weekend. We had one solid day on the beach, and since it was foggy and not super hot, we all neglected to slather on the sunscreen and developed that first (and hopefully last) roaring red sunburn of the season. It's not good, I know, but secretly, deep down, I kinda love the feeling of warmth radiating off of my skin. I know, I know, skin cancer, etc. I promise I'll be better about it next time.
I could go on a tangent about the beach, the farmers market, my garden, bike rides, long days, sun dresses, ice cream, bare feet and all the other things that make summertime the besssssst. But instead, lets talk about grilling, the sole cooking technique that defines the season. Grilling gives food lots of flavor with minimal effort, which is what summertime's all about. Grilling is an excuse to hang outside, and the best part is that it leaves little in the way of clean-up.
We don't eat a ton of meat in this house, but we definitely like to have a solid source of protein at least a few times a week. I love steak, but lamb has become my favorite red meat of choice. We never had lamb growing up, as my mother was opposed to eating the youngin's, and for a long time I was too. It took me a few tries to get into lamb, but I've come to think it has more flavor and character than other meats. Because there's far less demand for lamb in the US than there is for beef, pork and poultry, it also tends to be more sustainable. I bought these beautiful, big lamb chops from our local butcher Ernest and Son, and they did not disappoint. Having a local butcher is such a privilege, and I realize how lucky we are to have one right on the island.
These chops take inspiration from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, which have quite a bit of overlap, and both of which I've been really into lately.
I marinate the lamb in a robust bath of red wine, lots of garlic, oregano, vinegar, honey and a touch of cinnamon. After marinating, the lamb gets grilled, then nestled over top of a silky, garlicky roasted eggplant puree. It's topped with a fresh tomato cucumber salad that's accented with fresh mint and sumac, a tangy spice common in the Middle East. For an extra layer of texture and crunch, I roast chick peas until perfectly crisp and sprinkle them on right at the end.
This dish is light, but substantial, and oozing with bright summery flavor. It might seem like a lot of ingredients and cooking, but it actually comes together quite easily. Any leftover eggplant puree is wonderful as a dip served with pita, and the crispy chick peas are excellent for snacking. I hope you give it a try.