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Warm Lamb and Farro Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

Tender lamb mixes with earthy farro, sweet pomegranate seeds, aromatic mint and crunchy fennel in this main-course salad, which is a wonderful dish to serve at the first sign of spring. Lamb tenderloin is an extremely tender cut—almost like butter—but because of its small size, care must be taken not to overcook it. It is a special-order item in most butcher shops but is well worth seeking out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup farro (see note below) 
  • 4 lamb tenderloins, about 1 lb. total, each 4 to 6 inches long, silverskin removed  
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil 
  • Kosher salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp. 
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste, plus 1/4 tsp.  
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary 
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar 
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered and cored, then thinly shaved crosswise 
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves 
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds 

Directions:

Place the farro in a saucepan and add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, until plump and al dente, 45 to 50 minutes. Drain, shaking off as much excess water as possible. Set aside. The farro may be refrigerated for up to 2 days; bring to room temperature before serving.

Brush the lamb on all sides with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Season generously with salt, pepper and the rosemary, rubbing the rosemary on all sides of the tenderloins. Let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice and the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil. Add the 1/2 tsp. salt and the 1/4 tsp. pepper. Stir in the farro and fennel. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill, or preheat a cast-iron stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat.

Place the tenderloins on the grill rack over the hottest part of the fire or in the grill pan, and cook until dark brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the tenderloins over and cook until lightly brown, just 2 minutes more, to avoid overcooking. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.

Cut the tenderloins across the grain on the diagonal into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Arrange on the salad, garnish with the mint and pomegranate seeds, and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Note: To substitute bulgur, place 1 cup medium-grind bulgur in a heatproof bowl and add 2 cups boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Cook and The Butcher, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, Inc., 2011).