Friday, December 11, 2009

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 4 - Beans - Lamb & green bean salad with pesto dressing

Cheating again, with a magazine that I own but searched on

I count my magazines as cookbooks, as I keep them all together in the bookshelves which are dedicated to cooking. My wonderful brother and his lovely wife give me a subscription to Australian Good Taste magazine for my birthday every year, and my very generous mother-in-law has had a subscription to Delicious magazine forever, but doesn't like to keep more than 2 years worth of magazines at a time, so the old ones get adopted and come to my house to live. Add to that the collection of 50 or so that I bought in bulk on eBay (Good Taste, Super Food Ideas, Delicious, Gourmet Traveller, Australian Table etc.) and the ones I randomly collect at the supermarket from time to time, they make up a large proportion of the recipes I have on hand to refer to. Inch for inch it's about 50/50 books to magazines, and there's over 10 feet of bookshelves dedicated to the cause.

Lamb and Green Bean Salad with Pesto Dressing is one I've made before, but had forgotten about, so not only is the Cookbook Challenge getting me to try new recipes, but revisiting the ghosts of meals past too! I wanted to make a bean salad as we had a Christmas picnic scheduled for work (Ladies, a plate), and I could kill two birds with one stone by catering for the picnic and preparing this week's Cookbook Challenge.  I had selected another recipe that I thought would scale up better than this, however due to threatening inclement weather this week the picnic was moved to the pub, so I decided to make the salad I liked better - and with the lamb this one is a complete meal, rather than a side - as much as I like to cook, I'm moving next week and the fewer things I have to do right now, the better. I'll make up for it once I'm living with my two ovens in the new house.

500g lamb backstraps
240g green beans
3 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 Lebanese cucumbers, halved lengthways, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch watercress, sprigs picked, washed (I couldn't find watercress, so used baby Mediterranean mixed salad leaves)
1 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves
75g toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan
1 garlic clove, crushed (I never use the recommended amount of garlic, I always add at least 1 clove extra)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice

Cook the lamb for 3-4 minutes each side for medium-rare, transfer to a plate and cover with foil and set aside for 5 minutes to rest. Thinly slice.

Meanwhile, cook beans in a saucepan of boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until bright green and tender crisp. Refresh under cold running water. Drain. I just steamed them.

To make the pesto dressing, place the basil, pine nuts, parmesan and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.

That looks coarse to me

With the motor running, gradually add the oil in a thin, steady stream until well combined. Add the lemon juice and process until smooth. I had to keep scraping down the sides, I guess my food processor bowl is too big - I definitely wouldn't recommend halving this recipe, unless you have a really small food processor.

Combine the beans, tomato, cucumber and watercress (salad leaves) in a bowl. Divide among serving plates and top with sliced lamb. Drizzle over pesto dressing and season with pepper to serve.

Just because I feel guilty for pretending my presentation skills are fabulous - check out the plate I prepared that I wasn't going to take a picture of:

What a mess! All just lumped on, with splatters of pesto dressing around the edge - who prepared that rubbish?


  1. Oh, it looks fresh and tasty! Good luck for the move - 2 ovens in the new place? How fantastic!

  2. Thanks Agnes. I'm really excited about the move, 2 ovens is a bit special, although some people look at me funny when I say it with big grin on my face!

  3. I like the look of the pesto! You do have a lot of magazines, but magazine subscriptions are a great present!

  4. Rilsta, the pesto was definitely the star. You could just do the lamb and pesto without the bean salad part, and do whatever sides you like, and it would be just as good.

    The magazine subscription is the gift that keeps on giving, for sure. I'll be very upset if my brother ever stops it!


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