It’s a bit of a mystery why raw kale salads took off with the popularity they did and raw Swiss chard salads have yet to catch on. Raw Swiss chard greens are tender and milder in flavor than you might think. The stems are edible and have a pleasantly crunchy texture and tart flavor. Not a fan of cooked Swiss chard? There’s a good chance you’ll like it better raw. The leaves have a light and lemony flavor with very little of the astringent bitterness of cooked Swiss chard.
It’s that light and lemony flavor that pairs so well with something meatier, heavier and spicier like harissa lamb chops. The flavor combination of harissa lamb chops and raw Swiss chard salad is pretty much perfect. Plus, you’re getting ample amounts of vitamins K, A, C and E, magnesium and fiber from the powerhouse green, plus iron, niacin, zinc, B vitamins and conjugated linoleic acid from the lamb. What more do you need from a meal?
Harissa is a fiery hot sauce made from dried chiles, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and olive oil. It’s fairly easy to find harissa in grocery stores, but also easy to make at home. When you make it, you can control the heat level and play around with different types of dried chiles. Possibilities include guajillo and new mexico (medium spiciness), ancho (spicy but fruity), arbol (spicier), chipotle (smoky).
Harissa is great as a hot sauce but possibility better as a rub for meat (especially lamb). The spiciness mellows as the meat cooks and what’s left behind is rich, earthy, sweet, smoky flavor.
Time in the Kitchen: 1.5 hours
8 dried chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2.5 ml)
2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander (3.7 ml)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (2.5 ml)
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (2.5 ml)
Soak the dried chiles in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain.
In a food processor combine the chiles, garlic, salt, olive oil, coriander, cumin and caraway. Blend until very smooth.
Kept in a covered container in the refrigerator with a thin layer of olive oil poured on top, harissa will keep for about a month.
Swiss Chard Salad with Baby Lamb Rib Chops Ingredients:
2 small bunches of Swiss chard, leaves pulled from the stems. Slice the leaves into thin strips (1/8-inch) and thinly slice the stems.
Juice from one lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (60 ml)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt (2.5 ml)
12 baby lamb rib chops
Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt. In a large bowl, pour the dressing over the Swiss chard, massaging the dressing into the leaves really well. This can be done up to 24 hours before serving the salad.
Rub about 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of harissa into each lamb chop. Lightly salt the meat and let it marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 250 °F (121 °C).
Using a cast iron or other oven proof pan, warm a little coconut or olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the lamb chops and sear for 2 minutes before flipping the chops over and searing the other side for another 2 minutes. Each side should be nicely browned before being flipped.
The chops can stay on the stove to cook until done, or if they’re getting too brown transfer the pan to the preheated oven and continue cooking the lamb until a digital thermometer registers around 135 °F (57 °C) (for medium-rare).
Serve the harissa lamb chops next to the raw Swiss chard salad.