This recipe can be made any day, not only on Australia Day of course. This dish is my choice to serve on the 26th January 2024 for dinner, or lunch. It's an oldie as I featured it in class about 15 years ago... but it is a goodie. Customers still tell me today, it's a favourite of theirs!
Treat yourself to lamb backstrap, it's the most tender piece of lamb, easy to cook and slices like a dream for this dish. Everyone will feel suitably spoiled and patriotic. And you'll help 'bridge the generation gap'. 😉
INGREDIENTS FOR FOUR
400gm Roma tomatoes (see notes)
500gm lamb backstrap
salt and black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
320gm quality linguine
2tsp roasted pinenuts
50gm fresh basil leaves
25gm grated parmesan
1 x med clove garlic
125ml extra virgin olive oil
extra virgin olive oil
- Pre-heat oven to 190°C.
- Cut each tomato into 4-8 wedges (depending on size). Place into large bowl. Toss with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread out in single layer on non-stick paper lined baking tray.
- Peel onion. Cut in half then into ½ cm thick (Lyonnaise) slices. Toss in bowl with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place on another paper lined baking tray close together so they don't burn, but soften and sweeten.
- Trim both ends of zucchini. Cut lengthways into half and then quarters. Chop lengths into 2cm chunks. Toss in bowl with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place on same tray as onions, in single layer.
- Roast all prepared vegetables for 35 to 40 minutes, until browning on edges.
- Meanwhile, make pesto. Roast pinenuts in oven for about 8 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Cool.
- Place basil leaves, grated parmesan, roasted pinenuts and crushed garlic with good pinch salt and black pepper into food processor bowl with olive oil. Process to form paste. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set aside.
- Bring large pan of salted water to a rapid boil to cook pasta.
- Toss lamb backstrap with salt and black pepper. Place large frying pan over medium high heat. When pan is hot, fry lamb in 1½ tablespoons olive oil for 3 minutes on one side, until golden. Turn and repeat until lamb is cooked to your liking, adjusting heat as necessary. Remove from heat and rest on warm covered plate.
- While lamb is cooking, add pasta to pan and cook according to instructions on packet.
- Cut rested lamb into thin slices cover to keep warm.
- Drain pasta when cooked, retaining about ¼ cup cooking water in saucepan. Replace pasta in warm pan and add pesto. Toss through to mix.
- Pile pasta on serving plate, place vegetables and lamb onto platter as in picture or toss all together. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil if liked and serve immediately.
- Roma tomatoes will roast giving a better result than round tomatoes as they have more flesh and less seeds. Or use cherry tomatoes as they work well too and can be roasted whole, saving prep time.
- Learn how to cut onion into Lyonnaise on The Cooks Collective for great presentation.
- Use quality freshly pre-made basil pesto. Buy from deli cold cabinets, not off supermarket shelves as it will contain preservative.
- Remove lamb from fridge about 45 minutes before cooking for best results. If cold from the fridge, lamb will take longer to cook, plus it's more of a thermal shock to the meat to go straight into a hot pan. Cooking meat with a little less chill always assists to keep it tender and juicy.
- Cook lamb to your liking, but it will be more tender and succulent if a little ‘pink’ in the centre.
- Substitute lamb with pan fried chicken breasts for an alternative idea.
- Add other Mediterranean style roasted vegetables to this dish such as eggplant and capsicum if liked.