Roast Capsicum Pesto

Roast Capsicum Pesto in everything!

Roast Capsicum Pesto on, in and with everything!

I am not quite sure of the origin of the word “pesto”, it’s one that doesn’t seem to translate. It’s not quite a sauce, not quite a paste and all kinds of versatile. It is also the simplest kind of food imaginable! This particular pesto really takes its place on any antipasto platter, whether you are putting nibbles out to accompany a glass of vino with guests or a hearty lasagne for the family. Back in the days when gym workouts meant carb loading, wholemeal macaroni with pesto and cheese stirred through it was my go-to. I still do this as comfort food occasionally 🙂  Hosting (or going to) a Barbeque? Easy. Toast a little pita, whip some of this up and your contribution will be greeted with admiration ..

Persian Lamb

Persian Lamb with all the trimmings

Persian Lamb with all the trimmings

The beautiful Pomegranate tree I planted four years ago is now full of fruit. More than I can eat. More than even Scribbler can eat! I remembered this dish (properly called Lamb Fesenjan), Perian prepared for Viscountess’s “Night in the Khazbar” birthday party some years ago. Juicing the pomegranates turns the meat pink and is not as sweet as the version using molasses or syrup. If lamb is expensive or hard to get where you live, try it with chicken pieces. Serve with rice and salad for an everyday feast or take a little culinary trip with tabouli, olives, Hummus and dukka. You can almost hear the camel-bells 🙂

Serves 4 – 6

  • 2 onions
  • 1kg/2lbs lamb (weighed without fat or bone)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1½ – 2 cups vegetable stock (you can use beef stock for a richer flavour)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 8 cardamon pods OR 1 tsp ground cardamon
  • ¼ cup pomegranate molasses OR ½ cup pomegranate syrup OR juice of 4 – 6 pomegranates plus 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric

Peel and chop onions coarsely

Remove fat, bone and gristle from the meat. Cut  into 2.5cm/1″ cubes.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (I use an electric frying pan) to medium heat. The oil should be hot but not smoking.

Once the oil is hot, drop the onions in and fry until they begin to brown. Add lamb cubes and fry until nicely browned.

Turn the heat down to a low simmer. Stir in half of the stock and the lemon juice. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for half an hour.

While the meat is simmering, prepare the sauce. Crush the cardamon pods until they open. Place the rest of the stock, cardamon, pomegranate syrup/molasses/juice, sugar and walnuts into a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture boils, turn the temperature down to low, place the lid on the saucepan and and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain fat and juices from the pan the lamb has been cooking in. You can discard them .. but I like to put them into the stockpot with the bones and gristle I trimmed earlier. It makes a lovely broth for tomorrow’s soup.

Stir in salt, pepper, cinnamon and turmeric.

Strain the pomegranate sauce into the lamb mixture to remove the cardamon pods. Stir well, Cover and allow to simmer a further 20 minutes.

While you are waiting, put a pot of water over medium heat and bring to the boil. Once the water has come to the boil, drop the rice in and stir.

Serve the lamb with rice. Garnish with extra walnuts, pomegranate seeds and/or chopped parsley