Harissa Lamb Chops with Raw Swiss Chard Salad

Harissa Lamb ChopsIt’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.

Servings: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 1.5 hours

Harissa Ingredients:

Harissa Lamb Chop Ingredients

  • 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)

Harissa Instructions:

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:

Swiss Chard Salad

  • 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
  • Harissa


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.

Cooking Chops

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.

Harissa Lamb Chops

About the Author

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

17 thoughts on “Harissa Lamb Chops with Raw Swiss Chard Salad”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I would probably use pork chops instead, but this recipe looks delicious.

  2. I would probably use pork chops as well. Lamb isn’t too popular around my household.

    Chard has always been a hard one to incorporate even though we get it in our CSA box from time to time. This recipe just might work.

    Is there a good pork chop rub that doesn’t include peppers? While I loved the chile gravy recipe you posted before that used Ando Peppers I think I have a nightshade issue.

    1. Usually I just crush fresh black or white (green) pepper and good quality salt. I only need a little from both to enhance the flavor of pork chops. Or for a fancier version: salt & pepper to taste, apple sauce or cherry juice (from after heating up frozen cherries), a few sprigs of fresh thyme and a SMALL splash of balsamic vinegar. Combine and marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes. Works great for beef heart too!
      And for an excellent sticky glaze, add 1 Tbs of honey.

  3. I love lamb. It’s probably my favorite meat and it has a more favorable O3:O6 ratio than pork. Plus, my grandfather herds them so I get them for free!

  4. Just finished reading your book and am now following your blog. Am transitioning to the primal/paleo diet to address my migraines and Meniere’s disease… will definitely make the harissa (salt-free) and will try the lamp chops soon! Thanks Mark.

    1. Why salt freeStephanie? Salt is an essential nutrient, and if you don’t eat processed foods, as on a Primal/Paleo diet, it needs to be added in.
      Good luck with your new journey on a nutrient dense diet.

    2. Stephanie, I second Debbie’s comment. I’ve known two people who almost died because their sodium level became too low. They were both of the erroneous opinion that if low-salt is good, then none at all must be better.

    3. Stephanie, please let me know if the primal diet helps you. I have a very good friend with an advanced case of Meniere’s (in both ears–is resigned to going deaf within the next five years). Maybe in her case, it’s advanced too much. Anyway, thanks. Nancy

  5. Hello, I’m wondering if you’ve ever cooked with ghee. I find it to be a much better cooking fat than coconut or olive oil and it has a much higher smoke point than either of them. Not to mention the buttery flavor is, IMO, much more complementary to cooked meats and veggies.

  6. Hi Shary and Debbie, I have a condition called Meniere’s Disease with migraine variant, and I am working with a modified paleo diet to see how much I can heal. Our bodies need 300-500 mg of sodium a day, which we easily get eating lots of fruits and vegetables. So we don’t “need” added sodium, although food does taste a lot better! I get around 800 mg a day, or a bit more if I eat out. Thanks for your concern. I appreciate it. This recipe looks amazing, with tons of flavor.

  7. I was under the impression that raw kale might not be quite as awesome as people think because of the oxalates. Not sure how chard compares.

    1. Yes, Swiss Chard is sky-high in oxalates – similar to spinach and rhubarb! It is definitely not a food I will be eating. I would use collard greens or mustard green instead – they are both low oxalate for a 1/2 cup serving.

  8. Hi Nancy, yes, my version of paleo/primal (also low-sodium and free of migraine triggers) has already helped me a ton.

    I have a new group of diet testers beginning my 8-week plan on Sunday. Feel free to have your friend email me for information. It’s free, online.

    Since no one really understands Meniere’s, except that it seems to be inflammatory and frequently linked to migraines, my approach is to eat anti-inflammatory, free of known triggers, and paleo/primal as much as possible. I keep my sodium at or around 800 mg/day.

    I will be happy to share my information with your friend.

    reciperenovator [at] gmail [dot] com

  9. I had never heard of Menier’s until the other day. I was looking into something else and so I had it in my notes. I went back and searched on the word. This is what I had in the notes:

    “Single oral administration of xylitol increased the auditory threshold values of patients with Meniere’s disease.”

    It was a summary from an abstract on a research paper. Just thought I’d mention it.

  10. I tried this and it was delicious!

    I had trouble processing the spices down to the smooth paste described though. What kind of processor would you use to achieve this? I have a full size one and a mini one but in both cases there isn’t enough here for the blades to get stuck into.
    It didn”t matter that much as I just rubbed the spices all over the lamb anyway and it still tasted good!