Lamb Chops with Italian Tomatoes, Peppers, and Olives

This simple Italian dish comes together rapidly and makes great use of sweet Ontario spring lamb.  Look for Ontario lamb... you will find that it is sweeter and milder than the New Zealand imports which are allowed to mature longer, and are therefore gamier in flavour.  Lamb chops are small so you at least two per adult and one per young person.  Have the butcher French them, which is to scrape away the meat from the end of the bone, for a beautiful presentation.  LIttle lamb chops cook quickly so keep them moist and pink.

Serves 4

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 8 rib lamb chops about 1 inch thick
  • sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp Virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil (best choices for high heat cooking)
  • ½ cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 can 28oz/796ml San Marzano tomatoes, roughly chopped, juice reserved
  • 3 Tbsp chopped Italian flat leaf parsley + 2 tsp for garnish
  • ¼ cup green olives stuffed with sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • freshly ground black pepper

Cut the bell pepper lengthwise along its creases; remove the stem, seeds and white ribs.  With a very sharp vegetable peeler, peel the skin from the outside of the pepper.  Cut pepper into 1½” square chunks.

Sprinkle lamb chops on each side with a little sea salt.  

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.  When the oil is hot, sear the lamb chops on each side until thoroughly browned.  Remove them to a plate and cover lightly with foil to keep warm.

Turn the heat in the skillet down to medium-high.  Add the chopped onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until they turn translucent.  Add chopped bell pepper and continue to cook for 8 minutes.  Stir in chopped tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium and add the parsley, olives and lemon zest; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender but still firm.  If the sauce cooks down and become very thick, add some of the reserved tomato juice and allow sauce to come back up to temperature.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

Place the lamb chops back in the skillet and spoon the sauce over top to coat each of them well.  Allow them to warm through.  Spoon some of the sauce onto a serving platter, arrange the lamb chops, and then pour the rest of the sauce over top garnishing with chopped parsley.  Serve immediately.

Pair with Merlot, Shiraz or New World Cabernet Sauvignon.

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