As promised, today’s recipe is Whole30 lamb, mint chimichurri and butternut “rice” recipe from David Guas’ grilling cookbook, Grill Nation (you can win a free copy here). This lamb is a MUST TRY. Seriously, go out and buy yourself some lamb this weekend and make this recipe, which makes the juiciest, chin-dribbling lamb. The mint chimichurri, which is a fresh burst of herbs and tartness, highlights the meatiness of the lamb. I served my lamb over a butternut squash “rice,” which is just simmered butternut squash. My whole family went nuts for this recipe, and the hubby thought I was a miracle worker for having pulled this meal together on a weeknight.
I made two minor adjustments to the original recipe, which appears on page 203 of the cookbook. First, as I mentioned in my previous post, I didn’t have lamb necks, so I used whole boneless lamb loins, which are apparently less rich in flavor than neck. I also added a butternut squash “rice,” which is basically chopped cubes of butternut squash pulsed in a food processor (I used my trusty Ninja, which has become a kitchen staple) and then simmered with chicken broth.The butternut squash “rice” has been a huge hit in our house. The hubby loves the al dente texture of the little pieces of squash, which have the same crunchy feel as rice. I used beef broth to make our rice, which also made it seem richer and more flavorful than regular butternut squash. The squash also filled us up, making us feel like our lives were empty and meaningless since giving up carbs. The Whole30 lamb, which we grilled to a medium doneness (as a compromise to the kids, who like their meat a little bit more done than my preferred medium rare or rare). The mint chimichurri was bursting with fresh, minty flavor, and the red wine vinegar really accented the sweetness of the fresh herbs.
As most of you know by now, Whole30 is a 30-day clean eating program that prohibits dairy, grains, alcohol, legumes and refined/processed sugars, and our 30 days has ended. I admit that I cheated on two occasions – once when I licked a spoon that held my son’s brownie and the second time when I had a tiny piece of cake over the weekend at our neighbor’s kid birthday party. According to the Whole30 rules, I’m supposed to start over each time I slip. Sorry/not sorry, Whole30. While I can’t bring myself to start over, I can report that I’ve lost 14 pounds and I’ve made a commitment to myself and my family that we’re going to be eating so, so differently from now on. Before we started, I thought of myself as a pretty healthy eater and cook. We ate dinner at home most nights, and I’ve always tried to cook using the freshest ingredients processed. I also avoided premade or canned goods (except for tomatoes and beans, generally). Whole30 has made me realize that even healthy eaters can have unhealthy habits. The hubby and I have also coined a term: “useless carbs.” We used to mindlessly grab the bread basket at restaurants or snack on cheese and baguette before dinner. We’re not doing that anymore. We want our carb and dairy consumption to be meaningful, if that makes any sense, by saving ourselves (and our diets) for the really amazing pasta or truly decadent dessert that is 100% worth every single sensational bite.
Even though we didn’t subject the kids to Whole30, Ge Ge (my 4-year-old son) has taken note. Throughout the month I’ve told him that his dad and I are embarking on Whole30 to treat our health and our bodies with respect. Ge Ge has always been a great, adventurous eater, so I feared our restrictive diet would give him license to start being more finicky about what he eats. I’ve tried so hard to balance telling him about Whole30 along with reiterating, “But your dad and I still like all kinds of food!” I wasn’t sure if any of it was sinking in until we let the kids eat at IKEA last weekend so that we could get some errands. As we got closer to the lunch counter, I noticed Ge Ge carefully studying the pictorial menu hanging high above his head.
“Mama, I think I’m going to have the chicken fingers,” he said. I expected this, as he usually gets chicken fingers at IKEA, which he’s claimed in the past are the “safest food to get at a restaurant where you don’t know if it’s going to be bad or good.” (No, seriously, he’s said that).
He paused and looked up at me. “Except can you ask them to give me only half the fries and then give me some of the vegetables? You know, because I want to be a healthy eater, too.”
That kid. I think one of those 14 pounds I lost was my heart getting lighter. (Cue cheesy music and single tear dropping from my eye.)
- 2 pounds boneless lamb loin
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves
- ½ cup firmly packed flat-leaf parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (approximately 4 cups)
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 3 cups beef broth
- Make the chimichurri: put parsley, mint, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil and red wine vinegar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 15-20 times until blended but not pureed. Pour into a bowl, cover and set aside.
- Prep the squash: Clean out the bowl of the food processor and add squash. Pulse 5-10 times until the squash resembles the size of rice. Set aside.
- Light charcoal grill or preheat gas grill to 350-400 degrees. Add lamb loins and cover the grill. Grill for approximately 5 minutes on one side, then flip over and grill the other side approximately 3-5 minutes until the internal temp of the lamb reaches 130 degrees for medium rare.
- Remove loins from the grill, cover loosely with foil and let rest 5-7 minutes.
- While lamb is resting, pour squash into a medium saucepan and add enough broth so the squash is just covered. Bring the squash mixture to a boil and add ghee. Reduce heat and simmer approximately 5-7 minutes until the squash is tender. Drain squash in a colander or strainer and place in a serving dish.
- Cut lamb against the grain into ¼" thick slices, then drizzle chimichurri on top. Serve immediately.