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Rack of lamb with smoked aubergine puree and harissa

I think I have finally worked out why it has become fashionable in recent years for restaurant menus to simply list key ingredients rather than call their dishes something.

Rack of lamb with smoked aubergine puree, caramelised spring onion, crumbled feta, kalamata olives, harissa and a sprinkling of pistachios.

That's how a '90s menu would probably have described this dish. It’s a bit of a mouthful isn’t it? But choose a few key ingredients and list them like this and you have something much more appealing:

Rack of lamb | Smoked aubergine | Harissa | Pistachio

Same dish, different sales pitch. Which would you order?

Yes there is a lot going on in this dish, but it all comes together really well and it is worth the effort. All the major flavours are covered: tangy and spicy harissa, creamy and salty feta, sweet roasted onions, smokey aubergines and earthy pistachios, which also add some texture to the dish. And all of them go bloody well with lamb, so there.

The harissa and smoked aubergines make it quite a time consuming dish, so I suggest making one or both of those the day before if you don’t want to spend the entire day in the kitchen.

If you want to cut the work down, you could always use store bought harissa – there are some decent ones out there – and/or skip the marinade for the lamb. There’s enough flavours on the plate that it’s not entirely necessary.

Serves two greedy people as a main course.


1 rack of lamb

For the marinade
4 tbsp olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ras el hanout
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
1 sprig mint, leaves removed and finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 anchovies, mashed with a fork
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the smoked aubergine puree
3 medium aubergines (approx. 800g)
Olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, in their skins
Juice of half a lemon, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the garnishes
Olive oil
3 spring onions, trimmed and cut in half
A few tbsps harissa (see recipe here)
50g feta, crumbled
25g pistachios, finely chopped
A few kalamata olives, pitted and halved


Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl, add the lamb and toss until fully coated. Cover and put in the fridge over night (or for a minimum of 2 hours). Remove from fridge about an hour before roasting to bring to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 150C

To make the aubergine puree, rub the aubergines in a little olive oil and char over an open flame (a gas burner is fine) turning until all the skins are blackened. Put on an oven tray with the garlic cloves and finish in the oven until cooked through (the garlic is likely to be done first).

Remove from the oven and put the aubergine in an airtight container to sweat. Later cut in half and scrape out the flesh, discard the skins and tops. Put the flesh in a bowl and mash with a fork. 

Remove garlic from skins and mash with a fork. Add to the aubergine puree and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper, to taste.

Turn up the oven to 180C.

Heat a frying pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil over a high heat. Sear the two pieces of lamb on all sides in the pan – this helps keep the juices in. Put on an oven tray and roast for approx. 20-25 minutes for medium rare. (It depends on the weight, use this guide if you are unsure).

On a separate, lightly oiled tray, roast the spring onions until golden.

To serve, warm the aubergine puree, place the sliced lamb rack on top and garnish the plate(s) with the roasted spring onions, harissa, crumbled feta, chopped pistachios and a few olives.

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Reader Comments (2)

I recently learned to make Harissa, a slightly different recipe from yours - no tomato paste- and I have discovered that it transforms everything ! I'll try your version. Sao far I have served it with aubergine ( already roasted then smeared with harissa on both sides and browned under the grill) .Served with cous cos and yogurt and mint in a separate bowl . Also tried it with white fish - smeared both sides and pan fried.
Extra harissa sauce on the side in both cases Delicious ! .

August 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMa

Hi Ma, they all sound like great combinations. I just used tomato paste to make it a bit smoother and for a richer flavour, but you are right that it doesn't necessarily need it. :-)

August 30, 2017 | Registered CommenterVix

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