Thai Steak & Noodle Salad

Before you take one look at the list of ingredients below and ignore the rest of this post, please hear me out.  This Thai Steak & Noodle Salad is unusual, tangy, filling, and oh-so-good.  Yes, there are quite a few ingredients, but there is overlap between the ingredients for the marinade and the salad dressing.  You can prep almost everything the day prior (the marinade, the dressing, and the vast majority of the salad ingredients - I'd cut the avocado and mango just prior to serving).  Plus, you are likely to have a handful of the ingredients already.  This would be the perfect one-course dish for a summer dinner party - you can throw the meat on the grill, toss the salad, and voilà!  

If nothing else, please give the marinade and the dressing a try.  Often I find that I'll marinade meat or chicken and once it is cooked, the flavor seems to have disappeared, which was not the case here.  And I think you could use greens and whatever other ingredients you happened to have on-hand, toss them with the dressing, and top with a protein to create a simpler version of this salad.

One tip - dress the salad right before serving.  I used kale instead of arugula, which held up in the leftovers the next day, but I'd advise waiting until you are ready to eat the salad (so if you plan to have leftovers, only dress what you'll eat immediately).

Thai Steak & Noodle Salad
Recipe from Bon Appétit 
Serves 4-6

Steak

   1 ½-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped

   ¼ cup soy sauce

   3 tablespoons raw sugar or light brown sugar

   2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

   1 tablespoon fish sauce

   ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

   ½ teaspoon garlic powder

   ¼ cup olive oil

   1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

   ¾ pound filet mignon steaks, 1 inch thick

   Kosher salt

Dressing

   ¼ cup fresh lime juice

   ¼ cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)

   ¼ cup peanut oil or vegetable oil

   2 tablespoons fish sauce

   2 tablespoons sugar

   1 tablespoon honey

   1 garlic clove, finely chopped

   Kosher salt (optional)

Salad and Assembly

   2 ounces dried ramen or lo mein noodles

   Kosher salt

   ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

   1 large mango, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

   ½ bunch arugula, stems removed, leaves torn

   ½ bunch watercress, tough stems removed (I omitted this)

   2 medium carrots, finely shredded on a mandoline or a box grater

   2 scallions, chopped

   2 cups finely shredded savoy cabbage (I used regular cabbage)

   1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

   1 avocado, cut into 1-inch pieces

   ½ cup chopped cilantro

   ½ cup torn basil leaves

   ¼ cup torn mint leaves

   ¼ cup crumbled toasted unsweetened coconut flakes

   ¼ cup finely chopped salted, roasted peanuts, plus more for serving

   Lime wedges (for serving)

Preparation

Steak

   Whisk ginger, soy sauce, raw sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Whisking constantly, gradually add olive oil, then sesame oil. Transfer to a small resealable plastic bag and add steaks. Close bag, pressing out air, and turn steak to coat. Chill at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours (I marinated mine overnight, for approximately 20 hours, and it was delicious).

   Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. (Alternatively, heat a grill pan over medium-high.) Remove steaks from marinade and pat dry. Season very lightly with salt. Grill, turning every 2 minutes, until lightly charred all over and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each steak registers 120° for medium-rare, 8–10 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting into 1" pieces.

   Do Ahead: Steak can be grilled 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Cut just before serving.

Dressing

   Whisk lime juice, chili paste, peanut oil, fish sauce, sugar, honey, and garlic in a small bowl to combine. Taste and season with salt if desired.

   Do Ahead: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Salad and Assembly

   Cook noodles in a small pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking. Toss with oil in a large bowl. Add mango, arugula, watercress, carrots, scallions, cabbage, tomatoes, and dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt if desired. Add steak, avocado, cilantro, basil, mint, coconut flakes, and ¼ cup peanuts. Gently toss just to combine.

Divide salad among plates, piling as high as possible. Top with additional peanuts and serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

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Salsa di Parmigiano

Blythe has a wonderful nanny who cares for her during the day while we are at work.  In addition being amazing with our little one and taking her on all sorts of adventures, she cooks delicious-sounding meals and brings leftovers for lunch that make me wish we could swap lunches.  I doubt she'd trade hers for what I usually pack... 

Recently she made us these Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Zucchini with Shrimp that I never would have made on my own, which were flavorful and unusual, and she introduced me to my newest obsession: vegetable noodles.  

I am now the proud owner of a spiralizer.  I try to avoid purchasing kitchen gadgets that are single use, but I've made an exception for the spiralizer because it makes these long, curly noodles that are fun to eat and cook and healthy.  An added bonus is that Blythe loves them and they are the perfect shape for her to grasp in her little hands.  These noodles actually make me think I like zucchini and I now regret not planting some in our garden. 

Yellow squash or zucchini noodles alone have very little flavor, which makes them the ideal vehicle for whatever kind of sauce you favor.  Usually my go-to sauce in the summer is pesto (made with pine nuts or walnuts), but lately I've been making Salsa di Parmigiano and adding a generous dollop of the Salsa di Parmigiano on the noodles.  It is deliciously cheesy with a kick from the red pepper flakes and I love to double this recipe and keep a Mason jar of the salsa in the refrigerator to put on vegetables (spiralized or not), pasta, or bread.  With the bountiful late-summer produce, this is the perfect sauce to have on-hand.

Salsa di Parmigiano
Recipe from Michael Chiarello via Alexandra Cooks

Ingredients
1/2 pound Parmesan
1/2 pound Asiago cheese
2 to 3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used 2, but start with 1)
1 to 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
1. Remove any rind from the cheeses and chop the cheeses into rough 1-inch chunks. Pulse the cheeses and garlic in a food processor until reduced to a fine, pea-sized gravel. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and stir in the scallions.

2. Add the oregano, rubbing it between your fingers over the bowl, red pepper flakes, 1 cup of the olive oil and black pepper. Stir. If mixture seems dry, add more olive oil by the 1/4 cup. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours before using.

Random aside - I've been getting emails from The Kitchn Cure, which just started last week.  For 20 days, they send a daily tip for cleaning and organizing your kitchen.  Today's task is cleaning the oven and last week was cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer (all of which are tasks I needed to tackle).

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Sesame-Chipotle Mole for Summer Grilling

Sesame-Chipotle Mole, the perfect dipping sauce for your summer grilling!

Sesame-Chipotle Mole, the perfect dipping sauce for your summer grilling!

The June issue of Bon Appétit arrived and the Grilled Short Ribs with Sesame-Chipotle Mole immediately caught my attention.  I have been operating under the assumption that a mole sauce always includes chocolate, but apparently this is not the case.  Wikipedia tells me that mole is actually a generic term used for sauces that originated in Mexican cuisine; moles include a variety of flavors and ingredients but have one common ingredient, chili peppers.

The weather here in Denver has been downright dismal for the last few weeks.  We've had rain and clouds and chilly temperatures every day.  Finally the skies cleared for most of yesterday and it seems we may be turning the corner toward summer.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity to get back into grilling (also, I love that grilling means very little clean up).  

The arrival of roses at our house typically mean summer is just around the corner.  Fingers crossed!

The arrival of roses at our house typically mean summer is just around the corner.  Fingers crossed!

I can't say that I am sold on grilling short ribs, a meat traditionally reserved for slow cooking, but I am sold on this mole.  The texture, with little bits of almond and sesame seeds, complements the meat and the chipotle-vinegar flavor is tangy with just the right amount of spice.  This would pair well with any red meat, as well as chicken or vegetables.  The recipe made double what we needed, which has me excited for pairing it with another grilled meat or some veggies later this week.

A random aside - am I the only person who says "veggies" anymore?  I've recently heard the term "veg" used with great frequency, but it just doesn't roll off my tongue.  Thoughts?

Can you see the chunks of almond?  They add nice texture to this sauce.

Can you see the chunks of almond?  They add nice texture to this sauce.

Sesame-Chipotle Mole Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Yield = approximately 1½ cups of sauce
Active time = 5 minutes

Ingredients
 cup unsalted almonds (I used raw but the original recipe called for roasted)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, drained
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo with a tablespoon of the accompanying adobo sauce (seed the chipotle chiles if you prefer the mole to be less spicy)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (the original recipe calls for Sherry vinegar)

Preparation
1.  Pulse almonds and sesame seeds in a food processor until finely chopped. Add red peppers, chipotle chiles, and vinegar and purée until well combined; season mole with salt.
2.  You can season the meat of your choice with the mole prior to grilling.  The recipe was written for 1½ pounds of beef, and the original recipe suggested that you use ⅓ cup of mole to toss with the meat prior to grilling.  I didn't think this added much flavor, so I'd skip that step and just use good meat and flavor it with salt and pepper or whatever seasoning you prefer.  Once the meat is grilled, serve it with the mole alongside.  The mole would work well with beef, chicken, vegetables and tofu.

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Blythe suggests you make this mole immediately!

Blythe suggests you make this mole immediately!

Citrus Salad

I'm in my 12th week home with Blythe. Time flies and and we've settled into a bit more of a routine, but hanging with B, walking or running outside (I'm obsessed with my FitBit so I have to get my steps in!), taking care of household tasks, and making dinner is still challenging for me. And I expect it will get even harder once I return to work. Any tips from those of you who are parents?  

In our first weeks home, what was incredibly helpful was the generosity of friends who brought us delicious meals. I had no idea before having a baby just how great it is to have a warm, home-cooked meal prepared by someone else and delivered to your doorstep.  To all of my friends who have already had babies, I apologize for not bringing you a meal. Going forward, this is something I will absolutely do.

One of our absolute favorite meals was a coconut-braised short ribs dish that I will post about soon. This dish was so good that I purchased the cookbook from which the recipe came (Cook this Now by Melissa Clark) and have made it three times.  It was accompanied by an unconventional salad that, admittedly, I was initially suspicious of.  I would never have paired citrus with olives and citrus is not something I am drawn to... but the unusual combination was delicious.  Something about the zesty citrus offset by the salty olives and the spice of the chili powder - I am hooked.

I didn't go to much effort to plate this salad and make it look beautiful (see above comment about finding time to get everything done), but just using different color citrus as suggested and offsetting the orange and red of the fruit with the green of the olives made this salad stand out.  

Sliced Oranges with Olives and Red Chile
Recipe from Cook this Now by Melissa Clark

Ingredients
3 large oranges - a mix of orange navel, pink Cara Cara, and blood oranges makes the salad colorful
High quality extra-virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt (I used Jacobsen Sea Salt)
3 tablespoons thinly sliced olives
Chili powder to taste

Preparation
1.  Trim off the top and bottom of an orange so it can stand upright on the cutting board.  Use a thin, sharp knife to slice off the peel and white pith, following the curve of the fruit as you go. The juicy orange flesh should be exposed. Turn the orange so the curved side is lying on the board, then thinly slice the orange 1/4 inch thick. The slices should look a little like flowers. Repeat with the remaining oranges.

2. Spread the orange slices on a large plate, overlapping them somewhat but not entirely (or if you are feeling lazy, put them in a bowl like I did!). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Top with the olives and dust with chili powder right before serving.

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