Lamb Chops with Tahini sauce & Couscous with chickpeas, dried apricots, pistachios & marinated feta

I am always on the hunt for new sauce recipes to accompany grilled meats.  It’s what I do.  My mind is almost always on food and my latest quest for culinary perfection has been my obsession with finding a collection of sauce recipes that will add flavour and guaranteed happiness to any grilled meat. 

My obsession has led me to a host of favourites, from the herby fresh Italian classic salsa verde, to the spicy punch in the face qualities of harissa, and one of my absolute favourites has to be tzatziki, the cool and creamy tangy cucumber dip flavoured with garlic that marries so beautifully with grilled lamb. 

The motivation behind my recent sauce obsession is laziness.  I have to say that when I am hard pressed to come up with a dinner idea I almost always fall back on some sort of grilled meat option...lamb chops, chicken breast, pork chops, beef steak etc.  I mean, grilling a piece of meat takes mere minutes and when I have little time (and energy) to spare this decision is a huge lifesaver.  Saying this I still need supper to have that little something special to appease my inner greed and that is where sauces come in.  They are a simple, easy to prepare, flavour packed ways of adding instant scrumptiousness to supper.  I mean a simple grilled chicken breast can be taken to whole new levels of deliciousness simply by adding a spoonful of salsa verde, a sauce that takes 5 minutes to prepare and is packed full of herbs basil, parsley and mint combined with olive oil, vinegar, capers, garlic and mustard.  And when you consider its 5 minutes of effort for maximum eating pleasure, why not!

My latest sauce discovery is tahini!  Tahini is a Middle Eastern creamy paste made up of sesame seeds and olive oil and wow!  Where have you been!  Not only does this sauce marry perfectly with spicy grilled lamb but it takes literally 2 minutes to prepare.  I whip mine up as the lamb chops are resting.  And the flavour!   Tahini is beautifully creamy with a slight nutty sesame flavour.

Now that I am travelling down the Middle Eastern flavour trek I was delighted to find a collection of Bill Granger recipes in this month’s Delicious Magazine that are also Middle Eastern inspired; lamb with a tahini sauce and couscous with chickpeas, dried apricots, pistachios and marinated feta.  Sold.

The lamb was awesome!  Bill has created a perfect blend of spice and sweetness...and the way that the maple syrup caramelises when grilled is just magic.  The couscous is salad is so incredibly beautiful, the colours are exquisite...beautifully fluffed couscous darted with green specks of parsley and orange plump jewels of dried apricots topped with green/purple chards of pistachio.  It almost looks so pretty to eat...almost.  Enjoy.  K X   

Lamb Chops with Tahini sauce & Couscous with chickpeas, dried apricots, pistachios and marinated feta
Adapted from Bill Granger Delicious Magazine October 2011
Lamb Chops
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tbs lemon juice
8 lamb chops
2 tsp sumac
1 tbs parsley, finely chopped
Tahini sauce:
1/3 cup tahini
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
Place chilli, ginger, garlic, maple syrup, lemon juice in a bowl, season and stir well to combine.  Place lamb chops in a shallow baking dish and rub with marinade, cover and stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile for tahina sauce combine tahina, garlic, oil, lemon juice and 1/3 cup warm water in a bowl.  Sprinkle with sumac. Set aside.
Heat frying pan over high heat and cook lamb chops for 6 minutes, turning half way through for medium.  Rest, loosely covered with foil, for 5 minutes.  To serve, place lamb chops on a platter and drizzle with tahini sauce, sprinkle of sumac and parsley. 
Couscous with chickpeas, dried apricots, pistachios and marinated feta
1 ½ cups couscous
350ml chicken stock
½ tsp saffron threads, crumbled
150g dried apricots, roughly chopped
25g unsalted butter
400g can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
200g drained marinated feta, crumbled
Handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Rind of one lemon, finely grated
2/3 cup pistachio kernels
Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.  Place stock, saffron and a pinch of salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to the boil.  Add apricot and simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Pour hot stock over couscous, cover with plastic wrap and stand for 10 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed.  Remove the plastic wrap and fluff couscous with a fork.  Add chickpeas, feta, parsley, lemon rind and pistachios to the couscous, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and toss to combine.  Serve with lamb chops and tahini sauce.

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