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Sicilian roast lamb loin fillets with Zhoggiu

Diana Henry / 22 April 2016

This roast lamb fillet is the perfect spring Sunday lunch for two. It's served with zhoggiu, a tangy Sicilian relish.

Roast lamb loin fillets with Sicilian relish
Roast lamb loin fillets with Sicilian relish

Cooking time

20 minutes




For the lamb

  • 2 loin lamb fillets, trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs olive oil

For the zhoggiu sauce

  • 25g blanched almonds
  • Pinch sea salt flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 10g flat leaf parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
  • 10g mint leaves, torn
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 squeezes of lemon juice


Zhoggiu is a Sicilian relish. It’s tangy, slightly sweet and fresh, and really worth making in a mortar and pestle (if you want to make it in a food processor you’ll have to double the amount). Don’t make it until the day you want to serve it.

Make the sauce first so that it’s all ready, but don’t do it more than 30 minutes in advance. The fresher it is the better.

Heat a dry frying pan and lightly toast the blanched almonds then put them in a mortar and pestle and crush them roughly. 

Add the salt and the garlic and continue to crush until the mixture has really broken down. Add the herbs – you can do this in two bits as it makes it easier to deal with – and pound hard until you have something like a rough puree. 

While still pounding add the vinegar and then the olive oil, adding the oil a little at a time. Add lemon to taste – sometimes just a spritz is enough, you judge – and check the seasoning.

Season the lamb with salt and pepper and heat the oil in a saute pan. On a high heat, brown the fillets all over, then transfer them to a roasting tin. 

Roast in an oven pre-heated to 200 C for 10 minutes. Take them out, cover and keep warm to let the meat rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Cut the lamb fillet into neat slices – you need a sharp fine bladed knife for this – and serve on warm plates. 

Spoon the sauce alongside and serve. Olive oil roasted or sautéed potatoes are perfect on the side. A watercress salad and some roasted peppers or a carrot puree would also be good.

Try Diana Henry's recipe for perfect roast potatoes to serve.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.