- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 13, 2003

This is the time of year that I resume my porch suppers. After what seemed like an eternity, winter with its gray skies and unending snowfalls finally departed New England where I live.

In its place are days of sunshine and warmth, which means that after months, I can open the glass doors that lead to our big side porch. Of all the rooms in our home, this is by far our favorite. We read newspapers and books here, and sometimes you’ll catch us snoozing in the oversized wicker chairs. We like to eat and entertain at the round table at one end of the space.

The meals I serve in this open-air setting are always simple and casual and for no more than four to six. I strive for menus that don’t require a lot of time. This year to initiate the season, I have already planned the first supper.

For appetizers, there will be bowls of toasted almonds and a platter of goat cheese surrounded by crisp croutons. Broiled lamb chops mounded with a Mediterranean relish, quick-cooking couscous and roasted zucchini will make up the main course, while a double-crusted blueberry pie bought at a good local bakery and garnished with scoops of vanilla ice cream will be the finale.

The Mediterranean relish with its bright splash of flavors is what makes the lamb chops special. Sliced sweet grape tomatoes are paired with slivered Kalamatas and capers, then combined with crushed fennel seed, red pepper flakes and generous seasonings of fresh rosemary and parsley. This colorful melange can be prepared several hours in advance and left at room temperature until the chops are ready to be quickly broiled.

Either rib or loin chops work well with the relish, and even though couscous and zucchini make excellent side dishes to the lamb, you could also offer the meat with saffron-scented rice and steamed green beans or with roasted red skin potatoes and a mixed green salad. Although our porch was the inspiration for this spring supper, your guests will enjoy this dish wherever you decide to serve it.

Lamb chops with a Mediterranean relish


cup grape tomatoes, cut lengthwise into thin slivers but not seeded

6 tablespoons pitted, slivered Kalamata olives

1 tablespoon drained capers

1 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed

teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

Kosher salt


8 rib or loin lamb chops, about 1-inch thick and trimmed of excess fat (see Note)

Olive oil for brushing lamb

Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

Combine tomatoes, olives, capers, fennel seed, red pepper flakes, parsley and rosemary in a medium nonreactive serving bowl and mix well. Taste and, if needed, season with salt. (Relish can be prepared 3 hours ahead; cover and leave at cool room temperature.)

When ready to cook lamb chops, arrange a rack 4 to 5 inches from broiling unit and preheat broiler. Lightly brush lamb chops on both sides with olive oil, then salt and pepper both sides to taste. Place on a broiler pan and broil 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare. Meat should be a rosy pink if you cut into the center of a chop with a small paring knife.

Watch carefully so you do not overcook. (If you prefer meat medium done, count on another minute per side for chops.)

Arrange chops on a serving platter around bowl of relish. Serve 2 chops per person and top chops with some of the relish. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Broiling time will depend on thickness of chops. If lamb chops are less than an inch thick, broiling time per side will be less.


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