This time of year, I focus my meals around tomatoes and fresh corn. I know soon enough local ripe tomatoes and corn will no longer be available. Every day I enjoy the freshness of a perfect juicy tomato and the sweet crunch of fresh corn. They taste so good and refreshing at peak season. I never get tired of them. This obsession challenges me to create different recipes that include corn and/or tomatoes. One variation I created is a steak salad loaded with summer vegetables. This is a light and refreshing salad with just the right amount of spicy citrus dressing to complement he vegetables and steak.
My focus for the recipe was to use local vegetables and fruit from NY Hudson Valley farms. It turns out, everything but the nectarines were grown in Yorktown by Meadows Farm. This local only focus (with the exception of the citrus salad dressing), is a big change for me because I add avocado to everything, especially salad. Avocado would taste great in this salad too. The salad’s produce ingredients include, yellow and green beans, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, fresh corn, arugula, nectarines and herbs. This whole group of fruit and vegetables pair perfectly with grilled steak. Unfortunately, it did not occur to me until I finished the salad, I could buy my steak locally at Hemlock Hill Farms in Cortland Manor.
This salad does not take long to prepare, but as is typical cooking with fresh produce does require more prep-work. I believe the results are worth it. Each step is done to bring out the bright flavors of fruit and vegetables. What is important to focus on is the timing of adding certain ingredients, and when to cook your steak. To achieve the freshest appearance and taste, slice then add the nectarines and steak just before you are ready to serve. Also tear or snip the herbs at that time as well. The rest of the ingredients are hardier and won’t turn brown when exposed to the air and acid.
I am using a new technique I just learned for dressing a vegetable salad. Instead of whisking all the salad dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl, I mix some, but add the rest directly to the vegetables. The citrus juice, zest, Sriracha, and honey get mixed together so the honey dissolves and is easy to mix. Normally, I would add the vinegar with the citrus, and then the olive oil to the citrus mix. However, I will add these ingredients separately to the prepared vegetables and adjust the amounts as needed.
First, add the vinegar to the vegetables with a pinch of Kosher salt. This step brings out the bright flavors and makes them shine. I was pleasantly surprised when I first tried this technique. I did not taste a strong vinegar flavor. Instead, the vinegar accentuated the natural flavors of the vegetables. How many times have you tasted homemade salad dressing and got hit in the face with an acid punch? It is not the case when you first add vinegar to vegetables. This is also a good lesson showing how adding additional seasonings and dressings change the flavors of the vegetables and fruit.
Joshua McFadden, chef/owner of Ava Gene’s in Portland Oregon, is considered a vegetable whisperer. He describes his salad making techniques in his cookbook, Six Seasons. I got the idea of adding the vinegar first to a salad after reading his book. Using this idea does make fixing a salad more hands on (literally), and the ingredient amounts somewhat vague. If you are just learning to cook, my advice is to start with less amounts of seasoning and dressings. You can always add more, but it is harder to fix over-seasoned and over-dressed food. Get your (clean) hands in there and add, toss and taste. Repeat until you believe it is perfect.
Do you have a local market where you buy your produce? Farmers markets are great, but around here they open one day a week on Saturday or Sunday. Having a local farm stand open six days a week in my hometown is a treat. I shop at big grocery stores as well, which are very convenient. However, I am grateful to live in an area where local farm produce is available to me.
What meal do you make using local and fresh ingredients?
Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing
- 1 TB fresh orange juice and zest from half an orange
- Juice from one lime and zest
- 1 TB honey
- 2 TB sherry vinegar
- 1 clove garlic smashed
- 1/2 tbs Sriracha
- Kosher Salt to taste
- Fresh ground pepper
Summer Vegetable Steak Salad
- 1 lb green beans ends trimmed
- 2-3 scallions
- 1 lb 450 g green beans, if a mix of colors are available use them.
- 1 ear of fresh corn
- 1/2 lb 225 g grape tomatoes
- 3 oz 40 g arugula
- 1 1/2 lbs 750 g steak, like shell steak, strip steak, or flank steak, your choice
- Pinch of Kosher Salt about 1/2 tbs
- 1/2 tbs crushed fennel seed
- 1/2 tbs ground coriander
- 1 - 2 nectarines or peaches sliced into wedges (If using peaches peel them first)
- About 5-6 basil leaves
- About 6 mint leaves
- About 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- More Kosher salt and ground pepper
Prepare the steak
One hour before you cook the steak, remove the steak from the refrigerator and its packaging. Put the steak on a plate and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle Kosher salt, ground coriander and crushed fennel seed over both sides of the steak. Loosely cover the steak with plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter for 30 minutes up to 1 hour.
Spicy Citrus Dressing
Add the orange juice, lime juice, zests, honey, sriracha, a small pinch of Kosher salt, a couple of grinds of ground pepper, and smashed garlic clove to a small bowl. Mix until the honey is dissolved. Cover the bowl with plastic and keep on the counter for later.
Prepare the vegetables
Trim off the ends of the scallions and thinly slice each scallion on a sharp diagonal. Add the scallion slices to a small bowl filled with cold water and ice. Let the scallions macerate in the ice water for 15 minutes.
Husk the corn and cut off the stem piece. Place the bottom of the corn in a mixing bowl and hold onto the tip. With a sharp knife slice off the kernels from the cob. Once the kernels are sliced off, run the back edge of your knife down the cob to press any corn milk out, catch the drippings in your bowl.
Make an ice water bath for the green beans. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. Set aside near the stove.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil on the stove. Trim the green beans. When the water boils add a large pinch of salt then the green beans and blanch them for one minute. Remove the green beans from the boiling water and quickly add them to the ice water bath to stop the cooking. When cooled, take the green beans out of the ice bath and dry on a clean kitchen towel. Add the beans to the bowl with the corn.
Cut the grape tomatoes in half and add to bowl.
Add half the arugula. If the leaves are large, tear them in half.
Drain the scallions and dry them, then add to the bowl with the vegetables.
Add the sherry vinegar, a small pinch of Kosher salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper to the vegetables and toss to mix with your clean hands. Taste. You will taste the vinegar, but it will not be harsh. Set aside.
Sear the seasoned steak on a hot grill, grill pan, or skillet. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to your pan or grill. Add the steak and sear for about 2- 3 minutes per side depending on the cut of your steak. My steak was very thin, about an inch, so very little time was needed to cook it. Flank steak will take longer. Aim for rare to medium-rare steak, or how you prefer your steak. The internal temperature for rare steak is 125°F (52°C). Medium-rare is 130 - 135°F (54 - 57°C). Remove the steak from the heat and rest on a carving board, and grind a couple of rounds of fresh pepper over each steak. Let the steak rest for 10 - 15 minutes.
When you are almost ready to eat, cut the bone off the steak (if there is one), and slice on a diagonal and across the grain into thin, 1/4 inch (.5 cm) slices. Drizzle about half of the citrus dressing over your steak slices on the cutting board then drizzle 1 TB of extra virgin olive oil over the steak.
Slice the nectarines and add to the vegetables. Add the remaining arugula. Drizzle the remaining citrus dressing over the vegetables. Toss to coat and taste the vegetables for seasoning. Add more lime juice, sriracha, or other seasonings if needed. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over the vegetables and toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Tear or snip the herbs over the bowl of the vegetables and toss. Taste and correct seasoning.
I like to serve the steak and vegetables side by side, not all mixed up like a traditional salad. This way if you have any leftover steak, you can store it separately and make steak sandwiches the next day. On a large platter spread out your vegetables and drizzle with olive oil and fresh herbs. Arrange the sliced steak to the side of the vegetables and pour any accumulated juices from the cutting board over the steak. Lightly drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the steak and a light sprinkle of sea salt flakes if you have them, and fresh ground pepper. Garnish the steak with chopped herbs. If you prefer, mix the vegetables and steak together in a bowl. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
“Why don’t we have this more often?” Taylor asked me one night. He did not waste any time to express himself as he was asking the question before he finished chewing on his first bite. He was referring to flank steak marinated in a sherry and soy sauce marinade. I did not really have an answer for him, and I had to reflect on the question myself. Why not? I used to make it every time I cooked flank steak. This marinade adds a lot of flavor to flank steak and is also great to marinate skirt steak and pork tenderloin.
This sherry marinade brings back a strong food memory for my family as well. Years ago we were visiting friends in Wellfleet, MA for the weekend and for a food contribution I brought skirt steak marinating in the sherry marinade. Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control the skirt steak was left marinating in this sherry marinade for over 48 hours, (something that I do not recommend because it could turn your meat mushy.) We desperately grilled the steak at the last hours of our vacation and made sandwiches to bring to the beach.
I can see that afternoon so clearly: sitting on the beach at the National Seashore in Wellfleet, relaxing and soaking in the sun, wishing we did not have to leave, watching my kids and our friends body surfing the waves, taking one last dive to feel the crisp ocean waters. There is something about this place fills my soul and completely relaxes me.
The sandwiches were simply prepared with grilled steak on hamburger buns and devoured instantly. We could have had 1oo sandwiches and it would not have been enough. The skirt steak was tender not mushy, (phew) and the sandwiches had a lingering well-rounded sweet, salty and meaty taste that completely satisfied and made you crave more.
Maybe it was the fresh seaside air and the cool ocean water that contributed to our collective memory, but the flavor of the grilled skirt steak sandwiches defined umami. Taylor posed a good question to me: something so good needs to be served on a regular basis, with or without the National Seashore in Wellfleet as an excuse.
Grilled sherry marinated flank steak will hit your umami sense as well, and like Taylor you will begin to crave this steak for a regular meal. If you are lucky to have leftovers the grilled steak can be used in salad, sandwiches, tacos, fajitas, or in a stir-fry. For me, I look forward to the leftover steak sandwiches more than the flank steak dinner. It is a quick and easy dinner, and with a bit of advanced preparation can easily fit into a weeknight dinner menu. If you do not own a grill, flank steak can be prepared on the stove in a grill pan or under the broiler. Cooking times will vary due to how hot your grill, pan or broiler are, so watch the steak because it does not take long to cook.
I came across the recipe for this marinade watching BBQ with Bobby Flay on Food Network possibly 12 years ago. It caught my attention because I was on the prowl for ways to jazz up pork tenderloin. The original recipe from the episode that I watched is, Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Guava Glaze and Orange Habanero Mojo. However, the current recipe on the website no longer has the marinade part of the recipe. My own age and kids age do not make me feel old, but searching for an old recipe on Food Network does. It has been around for so long they do not even have it in their archives. I know it was there. I wrote it down on a scrap piece of paper and have kept it in my files ever since.
Tips for cooking steak:
Eliminate the cooking time by taking the meat out of the refrigerator one hour before cooking. This will bring the meat up to room temperature and will need less time on the heat.
Use recipes as a guideline for cooking time. There are too many variables that will affect how long it will take to cook your specific piece of meat using your specific equipment.
Dry the meat before putting on the pan or grill. The drier the exterior the better the meat will sear or brown.
Cook meats on the grill in two phases using direct and indirect heat. First cook the steak on direct heat to get a good sear on the outside. After a couple of minutes per side, move the steak to a place on your grill that is not directly over the coals, or flame, to finish cooking the interior of the steak using indirect heat.
Do not over cook the steak. It is best served on the rare to medium rare side. Internal temperature for meat that is rare is 125-130 degrees F, medium rare range is 130-140 degrees F. Steak cooked to 150 degrees F or higher, will be well done and dry.
Let the steak rest for 5 to 15 minutes after cooking and before carving and eating. The moisture in the steak will circulate through the meat and keep the steak moist.
Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak
Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak
- 1- 1 1/2 lbs flank steak
- 1 recipe Sherry Marinade
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup low salt soy sauce or low salt Tamari Sauce
- 1/4 cup dry sherry Fino
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 1/2 Tbls unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 TB fresh orange juice
- 1 TB fresh rosemary
- 1 TB minced shallots
- 1 tsp fresh minced ginger
Combine all liquid ingredients in a small bowl and whisk thoroughly until mixed together.
Mince the rosemary then add to the bowl, save the stems. Add the minced ginger to the liquid ingredients in bowl. Whisk all the ingredients together.
Prepare the Flank Steak
Place the flank steak in a gallon size zip-lock bag, or small Pyrex dish large enough for the steak to lay flat.
Pour the marinade into the bag or pan and add the reserved rosemary stems. Seal the bag, carefully getting out as much air as reasonable, and place bag with the steak in a rimmed tray or pan large enough for the flank steak to lie flat. If not using a plastic bag, cover your dish with plastic wrap. Put the marinating meat in the refrigerator.
Marinate the flank steak for at least 2-3 hours or up to 24 hours, turning the steak over from time to time so the whole piece gets marinated evenly.
Take the steak out of the refrigerator one hour before cooking time. You want the meat to come up to room temperature, which will require less cooking time.
Take the flank steak out of the marinade and place it on a rack fitted inside a baking sheet. Dry the flank steak with paper towels. Lightly salt both sides of the steak, less than a teaspoon in total.
Prepare your grill for high heat.
Rub both sides of the flank steak lightly with olive oil and rest the streak on the rack until the grill is hot.
When your grill is hot set the flank steak on the grill directly over the coals, or heart source for gas grill. Cook he flank steak for 3 minutes on one side then turn it over and cook on the other side for two to three minutes. Check internal temperature, you want the middle of the flank steak to read 125° to 130°F (52° - 54°C) for medium rare. If the steak is not ready, move the flank steak over to the side of the grill, away from the coals, and continue to cook with indirect heat until internal temperature reads 130°F (54°C). Hopefully a just a couple minutes more.
Take the flank steak off the grill and rest on a cutting board. Grind fresh pepper to taste on the steak and let the steak rest, loosely covered, for 10-15 minutes.
Slice the flank steak across the grain of the meat in thin slices.
Serve with your favorite sides, like buttered green beans with basil, sliced tomatoes, grilled corn, caramelized onions.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.