Rack of Lamb with Arugula Pesto

Be sure to buy a rack of lamb that has been "frenched," meaning the rib bones have been scraped clean (the butcher will do it for you). Trim any fat from the individual chops as you eat, not before cooking them. Fat keeps the lean meat from drying out while it's in the oven.

Serves: 5
Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes


  • 10 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 tightly packed cups arugula
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp low-sodium chicken broth or water
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste


  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup packed basil, julienned
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 racks of lamb (about 1 lb each)


  1. Prepare pesto: Preheat oven to 400°F. Place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil, gather up edges and pinch together, enclosing garlic in a loose pouch. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Carefully open foil packet and cool.
  2. Peel garlic and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add arugula, Parmigiano-Reggiano and nuts. Process until roughly chopped, scraping down bowl as needed. With processor running, slowly pour oil through feed chute. Scrape down bowl, then add broth in same manner. Season with salt and pepper. (NOTE: Pesto may be made up to 1 day ahead; refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.)
  3. Prepare barley and lamb: In a medium saucepan, cook barley according to package directions. Transfer to a bowl. In same saucepan, heat oil on medium. Add shallot and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to collapse, 5 to 7 minutes. Add barley back to pan and cook, mixing well, until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and add basil.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large ovenproof skillet on medium-high and coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over lamb racks. Place lamb in hot skillet, fat side down, and cook without moving until browned. Using tongs, flip over and repeat on opposite side. Transfer skillet to oven and cook to desired doneness, about 12 minutes for medium-rare (or 130°F on an instant-read thermometer). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut racks into individual chops, trimming visible fat.
  5. Divide barley among 4 plates and rest 3 chops over each pile of barley. Top each with about 3 tbsp pesto and serve.

Try out one of our other pesto recipes here.
Nutrients per serving (3 chops, about 3/4 cup barley, 3 tbsp pesto): Calories: 392, Total Fat: 16 g, Sat. Fat: 4 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g, Carbs: 38 g, Fiber: 8 g, Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 25 g, Sodium: 79 mg, Cholesterol: 68 mg
Nutritional Bonus:
Despite its light and leafy appearance, arugula is packed with vitamins A and C, along with other valuable nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamin K, which studies show may reduce your risk of bone fractures. It also delivers folate, which may lower levels of the amino acid linked with a higher chance of fracture.