Having decided to go to Rhodes on Easter vacation in April, the pre-excitement got the better of me and I just had to have lamb and orzo to enhance the anticipation.
Usually I marinate the lamb in oil, lemon juice, mashed garlic and rosemary, but I had wonderful bunches of fresh mint and cilantro so I decided to make a minty paste that I could use to baste the lamb, and then mix with fresh goat and sheep cheese as an accompanying dip and enhance the orzo with.
This is what ended up in the wonderful mint paste:
Mint and cilantro paste with goat and sheep cheese
Combine the following in a small electric chopper, blending and shaking until you have a well mixed paste:
About 1tsp each of cumin seeds,coriander seeds, black peppercorns, sea salt, Moroccan “ras et hanout” spice, 1/2 tsp of ground cloves, ½ clove of garlic, 6 soft-dried apricots, 1 tsp tomato paste, 1 tsp white wine vinegar, 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves (washed), 2 handfuls fresh mint leaves (washed, stems removed) 1 tsp each of fresh lemon thyme and fresh rosemary needles, 1 TBSP each lemon juice and olive oil, 1 dried chili (whole), 1 tsp cherry balsamic vinegar, freshly toasted pine nuts and sesame seeds (2 TBSP each).
Remove 2 TBSPs of the paste for the lamb marinade.
Add 1 TBSP each of fresh sheep and goat cheese to the remaining paste and blend until well mixed – add a drop of olive oil or lemon juice if too dry. Set 2 TBSPs aside for the orzo. Transfer the remaining paste to a pretty bowl for serving, cover and refrigerate until needed.
Grilled and baked lamb rack
Used the reserved 2 TBSPs of the mint paste and mix with 1 ½ TBSPs of olive oil. Combine and baste a frenched lamb rack at room temperature, weighing approx. 660 grams / 1.5 pounds. Let rest 15 minutes while you light the gas grill and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C or 400 F.
Grill the lamb racks on a hot gas grill 4 minutes on each side. Put the meat in an oven roasting pan in which you have placed 2 halved garlic cloves and several sprigs of rosemary. Put the pan in the oven quickly and turn off the oven. Let lamb rack sit for 12 minutes for medium rare, 15 minutes for medium – DO NOT open the oven door in between!
Remove lamb form the oven and cover with aluminum foil – let sit for 5 minutes in a warm place.
Orzo rice noodles with red wine and mint paste
Cook 250 grams / 8 ounces of orzo in salt water with 1 TBSP of your favorite powdered broth until al dente. In the meantime finely chop 1 onion and 1 yellow Hungarian pepper. Peel and seed 4 medium-sized tomatoes, dice them.
Heat 1 TBSP of olive oil in a casserole, add chopped onions and peppers, and stir-fry until translucent but not mush. Add the diced tomatoes, 2 TBSPs of red wine and the 2 reserved TBSPs of the mint cheese paste. Simmer covered until well combined and fragrant.
Drain and add the orzo noodles along with a large lump of butter. Stir to combine, taste and adjust seasoning.
Cut the lamb rack into 4 portions. Serve with the orzo and the paste.
P.S. More details about the house and reserving it can be found here: