Za'atar-Spiced Lamb Chops with Lentils

Discover the Middle Eastern spice blend that's been missing from your life.

Shake up your weeknight dinner routine with a bold new flavor and an unexpected cut of meat. The Middle Eastern spice blend called za'atar, a mixture made with dried herbs such as thyme, oregano, and marjoram as well as sesame seeds, is the perfect accompaniment to lamb. Rubbed with the aromatic seasoning and seared in a skillet, these elegant but exceeding simple-to-make chops are served over a comforting mound of stewed lentils for a dish that's sure to transform your dinner table. Lonny's go-to recipe contributor Diana Yen serves them with a side of shaved carrots and radishes with a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten up the meal. After all, you know what they say about eating the rainbow.

Za'atar-Spiced Lamb Chops with Lentils
Serves 4

For the Lamb:
- 8 lamb rib chops (about 2 pounds total)
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons Za’atar spice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the Lentils:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 stalk celery, sliced on a bias, ¼-inch think
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced on a bias, ¼-inch thick
- 1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1½ cups uncooked french lentils (not quick-cooking lentils)
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Za'atar-Spiced Lamb Chops with Lentils

For the Carrot-Radish Salad:
- 1 pound breakfast radishes, ends trimmed, thinly shaved
- 1 pound baby carrots, ends trimmed, thinly shaved
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and freshly ground pepper

Prepare the Lamb: Season chops with salt and pepper. Rub za’atar spice mixture over both sides of chops and let stand at room temperature.

Make the lentils: Place medium saucepan over medium heat, and add the olive oil. When hot, add celery, carrots, shallot, garlic and sauté until the chopped
shallot is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the bay leaf and lentils, and stir to combine. Add the chicken stock, increase heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, simmer for 20 minutes, and add the rosemary. Continue cooking until the lentils are tender, about 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and cilantro. Remove the
rosemary sprig and bay leaf before serving.

Make the salad: Place the shaved vegetables in a bowl and toss lightly with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the Lamb: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb; cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Depending on the thickness of your chops, this will cook them to rare or medium rare. If you would like your lamb chops more well done, transfer the skillet to a 400-degree oven and roast lamb chops to desired doneness, about 5 minutes for medium-well. Transfer lamb to platter, cover, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve the lamb with stewed lentils and shaved vegetable salad.

Za'atar-Spiced Lamb Chops with Lentils

I'm the former Deputy Editor at Lonny.
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