Lambchetta: Italian Style with Pumpkin Caponata

Watch Recipe Video

Lambchetta Served
Lambchetta served with parsley puree. Photo by Ben Spangler

Lambchetta follows the Italian culinary tradition of porchetta, a savoury, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast. The carcass is deboned, arranged carefully stuffed with herbs such as wild fennel. It may also be referred to as a roulade, meat rolled around a filling such as cheese, vegetables or other meats. This lambchetta is made from a deboned loin rolled within its skirt and filled with a basil, rosemary, thyme and fennel paste. Other combinations of herbs can be used such as foraged lambsquarters, edible flowers, or your favorite pesto.

Lambchetta is an impressive centerpiece yet not as difficult to prepare as it may appear. It does well prepared a day ahead and refrigerated lightly covered until oven roasting. Uneasy about deboning a loin? Follow Chef Ben’s video tutorial or for a short cut purchase a rolled and tied loin and refabricate it with your own filling. The pre-rolled loin won’t be quite the same but it will stand on its own if you lack the time to do the knife work.

This lambchetta recipe prepared from a full loin serves 8.

Lambchetta with Pumpkin Caponata
Lambchetta with Pumpkin Caponata.   Photo by Ben Spangler

Chef Ben Spangler.

This recipe is by chef Ben Spangler. Hailing from Minnesota, Ben draws from his Midwestern roots to create dishes that are unpretentious and delicious. Ben has competed on national television for the Food Network and appeared on local Minneapolis food networks. He is currently executive chef at Mercy Restaurant in Minneapolis.


Lamb Loin Untrimmed or Deboned
Kosher salt and pepper

Basil Paste 

Get Cooking1 teaspoon granulated onion
3 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 Tablespoon parsley
1 Tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons rosemary
1 Tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 Tablespoon basil
1 Tablespoon fennel seed
2 Tablespoons salt
2 each lemon zested
1 Tablespoon fennel pollen

Chop and mix in a food processor or by hand and reserve.


Deboning Loin
Deboning the loin. Photo by Ben Spangler

Refer to video below more details on the butchering process

  • Place lamb loin fat side down on cutting board. Slice down the middle going with the middle back bone.Follow the loin against the bone as much as possible. Remove and reserve the tenderloin strips.
  • Clean off the belly flaps without breaking through the skin to approximately 1/4 inch thick to the loin meat.
  • Once completed return to cooler for  an hour or more before tying. If the meat is warm it will be harder to process.
  • After cooling layout out the deboned loin on cutting board. Return tenderloin strips to center of loin. Sprinkle salt over meat.
  • Spreading Basil Paste
    Spreading Basil Paste. Photo by Ben Spanger

    Spread basil paste evenly on inside of loin.

  • Roll the skin over the loin until a tight roulade and tie with butcher twine without crushing the meat.
  • Salt and pepper the roulade. It may sit in the refrigerator a day, loosely covered, before roasting.
  • Remove from refrigerator for 2-3 hours before roasting to allow it to warm up so it will cook more evenly.
  • Preheat oven to 450 F.
  • Place lamb on roasting rack for 20 minues then lower oven to 300 F and cook until the middle reaches 125 F for medium rare or 135 F for medium. Once removed from the oven allow it to rest for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the twine and serve.

Deboning Loin Demonstration Video

Video by Ben Spangler

Pumpkin Caponata

1 each onion diced
4 cups pumpkin or butternut squash
3 oz carrot juice
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon fennel pollen
1 teaspoon fennel fronds
1/2 cup pomegranite seeds
2 oz blue cheese
1 oz pecans roasted
3 oz or as needed extra virgin olive oil

  • Heat a large skillet (not aluminum) to medium high heat and add 3 oz olive oil. Add onion, season with salt and sauté until transparent. Toss in minced garlic.
  • Add squash and carrot juice with honey and slowly simmer adding water as needed until squash is tender. Do not add too much water or the mixture will become soupy.
  • Once the squash is soft but still holding its shape stir in fennel pollen, fronds and butter.
  • Garnish with pomegranate, blue cheese and pecans.

Parsley Puree

1 cup chopped parsley
1 quart of ice water
1 each lemon juice
2 each lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
3 oz milk
4 each potatoes mashed
3 oz unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and lemon juice.
  • Add parsley for 20 seconds then immediately strain and drop into ice water to cool.
  • Strain parsley and put in blender with milk and blend until smooth.
  • Zest lemons into puree and reserve.
  • Prepare mashed potatoes. Mix in butter at room temperature.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste and then mix in parsley puree.