academia barilla  March 2008

Easter Recipes: Lamb Chops with Basil Pesto

The Italian Easter feast is the most symbolic of all Italian feasts. [...]

The Italian Easter feast is the most symbolic of all Italian feasts. Although regional recipes and menus may differ depending on seasonal specialties and locality, the main essentials can be commonly found in almost every Italian Easter Day menu. Among them include eggs, lamb, and symbolic shaped breads.

Eggs are traditionally served in almost every dish, from soups to sweet breads, served on Easter Day to recognize that they represent rebirth and life. Another custom for Italians on Easter is to include lamb, grilled or roasted, on the menu to recognize and remember the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. The Dove, symbolizing peace, has become the shape of the famous traditional Easter cake, Colomba Pasquale (Colomba means dove and Pasqua means Easter).

Today, we share with you the recipe for Lamb Chops with Basil Pesto, and tomorrow we’ll publish also the recipe for the classic Colomba Pasquale. Both entries will surely bring Italian gourmet highlights to your Easter Day menu.

Academia Barilla recipes

Ref: The source of the image above is Valentino Marcattili’s cookbook “Il San Domenico di Imola – Estetica del cibo, le cantine, i sapori della tavola” (Imola’s St. Domenico – Food aesthetic, cantinas, the flavors of food), edited by Rizzoli, and available at the Academia Barilla Gastronomic Library in Parma, Italy.

(serves 6)

- 3 pounds lamb loin
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2/3 cup Academia Barilla D.O.P. Monti Iblei Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Academia Barilla Pecorino Gran Cru
- Academia Barilla Natural Sea Salt with Black Olives, to taste
- freshly ground Pepper, to taste
- Academia Barilla 8-years Balsamic Must of Modena, if desired


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Clean the lamb loin and slice it into chops.

Combine the basil, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Add the D.O.P. Monti Iblei extra virgin olive oil and process until fully mixed and smooth.

Transfer the pesto to a large mixing bowl and season with Natural Sea Salt with Black Olives and freshly ground pepper and stir in the freshly grated Pecorino Gran Cru.

Sprinkle the Lamb chops with Natural Sea Salt with Black Olives and freshly ground pepper.

In a large grill pan, heat 2 tablespoons of D.O.P. Monti Iblei extra virgin olive oil over high heat and place the chops in the skillet and cook just until brown, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Transfer the Lamb chops to a large baking sheet. Roast the lamb in the oven for about 15 – 25 minutes or until they are cooked to the desired doneness. When done, pull the Lamb chops out and let them rest for about 5 minutes.

Spread the pesto mixture over 1 side of each chop so that it is covered in a thin pesto layer.

Transfer the Lamb chops to a large serving platter and arrange the Lamb chops with the pesto side up.


If desired, sprinkle with a little extra freshly grated Pecorino Gran Cru and with Balsamic Must vinegar for an intense and sweet finish.

Buon appetito, and Buona Pasqua from Academia Barilla!

Remember that all the gourmet ingredients of this recipes are available at the best gourmet specialty stores, and are also a click away from you, available at the Academia Barilla online store!

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