Lamb Backstraps with Crushed Olives and Fennel Dressing

, from Issue #101. January, 2022
Photography by Josh Griggs.
Lamb Backstraps with Crushed Olives and Fennel Dressing

This is a vibrant and easy dish using a quick-cooking cut of lamb. The dressing is bursting with flavour and, along with the salty olives, is a perfect foil for the meat.

Serves: 6


4-6 boneless lamb backstraps, about 850 grams
olive oil
sea salt and ground pepper

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
finely grated zest 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon each finely chopped mint and parsley

To serve
20 green olives, lightly crushed and pitted


Brush the lamb with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. 

Heat a large frying pan and when very hot, cook the lamb for about 2-3 minutes each side for medium-rare. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the lamb. Try and get a good crust on the lamb. Transfer to a plate and rest, lightly covered, for
5 minutes.

Dressing: Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

To serve: Slice the lamb against the grain and place on a platter. Drizzle with the meat resting juices, then scatter over the olives and spoon over the dressing.

Drinks match:
From Robert Stadniczenko’s Arapai vineyard on the Dry River Flats, comes the Stad_ko Martinborough Pinot Noir 2020 ($39) This dry, spicy, leather layered and earthy pinot noir is edged with allspice and baked tamarillo, and it’s beyond lovely with lamb.

Stad_ko Martinborough Pinot Noir 2020