HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!
Today I’m sharing a very delicious and simple meal for this long weekend! It’s a great way to celebrate your Valentine in style without following too many steps when preparing a meal.
The basics I’m sure you already have in your kitchen. Just follow these instructions and you’ll serve a tasty, light and flavorful dinner and get bonus points for impressing your sweet heart with your cooking skills.
While it’s very simple, you can prepare a day ahead of time. Before you know it, you’ll be relaxing with glass of wine, waiting until your lovely bell rings.
Hope you enjoy every spoonful!
Rack of Lamb with Leeks and Quinoa Salad
Ingredients: Serves 4
- 1.56 lb Australian or New Zealand Lamb Rack, Frenched [approx. 8 chops]
- 2 bunches medium leeks, trimmed of their roots, well washed, white and light green parts only and cut into rounds. [approx. 4 cups]
- 4 tbsp organic shallots, peeled and finely chopped [approx. 1 large shallot]
- 3½ tbsp water
- 4-5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2½ tbsp organic fresh lemon juice [approx. 1lemon]
- Smoked Sea Salt [I used this Smoked Sea Salt]
- Freshly ground black pepper
How to Prepare the Lamb:
- Season the rack on both sides with smoked sea salt, fresh black pepper and lemon juiced. Set a side. Allow to sit in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 2 hours before cooking.
- Heat a large pan with a lid and add olive oil, shallots, and leeks. Sauté for 5 minutes stirring often with a heat resistant rubber spoon then add water. Stir well to coat with oily water, and season a little according to preference. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until leeks are very tender. Continuing stirring occasionally to make sure they aren’t sticking, adding more water if necessary to stop the pan from going dry before the leeks soften.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a sauté pan over high heat and add a little oil. Sear lamb rack then place into the preheated oven. Cook lamb until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F [approx. 16-20 minutes for medium]. Remove rack, cover with foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Once the leeks are cooked, slice the lamb into individual chops, then pour the sautéed leeks on top of the lamb, then drizzle with toasted almonds onto the serving plate.
Quinoa with Kiwi, Feta, Arugula and Mint Salad
Ingredients: Serves 4 – 6
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup organic kiwi, peeled and chopped [approx. 3 kiwi fruits]
- ¾ cup creamy feta cheese, cubed
- ½ cup organic red bell pepper, washed, seedless and diced [approx. half large pepper]
- 2½ tbsp organic fresh lemon juice [approx. 1 lemon]
- 1 cup organic baby arugula, rinsed and dried
- 15 organic large fresh mint leaves, rinsed and snipped
- 2-3 tbsp organic extra-virgin olive oil [I used Olio Basso]
How to Cook Quinoa:
- First rinse the Quinoa, then place 1 cup of Quinoa in a large fine-meshed strainer, rubbing the seeds with your fingers under running cold water for at least two minutes. If you don’t rinse the Quinoa well it will end up tasting bitter. Allow to drain and dry for 20 minutes. This process prevents mushy grains.
- After the grains are completely dry, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a covered sauce pan. Reduce heat, add the quinoa and simmer for about 15 minutes (still covered), or until the Quinoa has absorbed all the water. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork.
- Keep covered and let stand until cooled.
- In a large glass bowl toss the Quinoa together with Kiwi, feta cheese, bell pepper, arugula, lemon juice, olive oil and mint. Lightly mix the ingredients with a rubber spoon. Taste, add salt, preferably Kosher, and white fine ground pepper if desired.
- Cover and chill for 1 hour or more to allow flavors to blend.
- Cooking with leeks is healthy and the sweet delicate flavor combines well with the shallots, giving the lamb chops an incredible taste. It’s so worth all the preparation when cooking with leeks. Usually after the leeks are clean, towel-dry, cut the way you like it, then let sit for 5 minutes or more before cooking, to preserve their healthy qualities.
- If you so desire, grill or BBQ the lamb rack 4 inches from moderately hot heat source, rib bones down. Grill for approximately 8-12 minutes per side. Wrap the rib bones in foil to prevent them from burning.
- Pan fry: cut the rack into chops by slicing down between the ribs. Place chops into a preheated skillet. Cook over moderate heat for approximately 4 minutes per side.
- The smoked sea salt creates a perfectly unique and unusual flavor in one’s mouth, especially when combined with the lemon juice mentioned.
- The lamb was prepared first Frenched and then sat in the refrigerator for 2 hours. That gave me enough time to prepare the rest of the meal.
- Remember it’s important to choose the right pan to properly sear meats, poultry and fish. A stainless steel or cast iron skillet are the best for cooking at high temperature, esp. when caramelizing.
- I know there are so many ways to prepare Quinoa: I thought this salad turned out so delicious, fresh and light.
- You can certainly add more toppings to the Quinoa, like green onions, or parsley, it just depends on what you like and how adventurous you are. To me the salad was already great. The baby arugula added a hint of pepper and the kiwi was just a magical match.
- Here is a link to buy a pre-washed organic Quinoa for those people who don’t have much time or patience to wash Quinoa: Pre-washed organic Quinoa