Monday, September 19, 2011

Mediterranean Pepper Steak

Steak sandwiches are one of the most classic hot sandwiches....and probably one of my most craved! I don't think that has ever been a sandwich shop that I have visited that I didn't contemplate ordering one -but usually I end up with a salad instead. My favorite pepper steak still is my grandfathers - I don't know how he made it - just sandwich steaks with salt and pepper and a slice of cheese but they were just so good that 20 years later I still can't forget them. This sandwich isn't like that though...No surprise I decided to do things my own way and went in a different direction using a bunch of veggies & tomato salad to brighten things up.

Meditteranean Pepper Steak
1 lb flank steak
1 red bell pepper - sliced
1 green bell pepper - sliced
1/2 cherry bomb pepper - finely diced
1 frying pepper - sliced
1 red onion - sliced
10 mushrooms - sliced
olive oil
salt & pepper

Tomato Salad
sliced cheese(we used american but swiss or mozz would be nice too)
Trader Joe's Middle Eastern Flatbreads

1) Season the meat with salt and pepper and place on hot grill pan
2) In a separate pan, heat oil with onions then peppers and finally mushrooms.
3) Once steak is medium remove from heat and rest
4) Lightly grill the pita before lining with cheese 
5) Slice steak on the bias and add to sandwich - top with veggies and top with tomato salad

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tomatoes - two ways!

I love shopping at the Farmer's Market but at times it can be a little expensive so I am always looking for a deal. A few weeks ago, I notice that my normal farmer had bags of about 6 large tomatoes on sale for $3. Normally these tomatoes are close to $3 each (since they are almost a pound each!) but since they were already nice and ripe they had them on "clearance". I was able to find a bunch that wasn't over-ripe and since I was going to use them right away anyways I was happy to buy them ripe and ready to use.

One of my favorite meals in summer time is tomato salads. There is nothing so simple and perfect but dependent on the ingredients. Tomatoes are something that still really only taste right in the summer. One bite of a fresh summer tomato is enough to make me want to swear off all of the super market varieties that range from acceptable to almost orange and mealy! But unfortunately, winter will be back soon enough and there will be 8 months worth of salads that rely on these sad tomato like substances!

The first variation is a traditional Italian tomato salad. This is an easy side that is welcome at my dinner table any night. It is best when you make it in advance and give it some time in the fridge to meld together. This is a simple mix of diced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, fresh basil and some salt and pepper. If you want to turn it up a little a splash of balsamic can also be added. Or some fresh mozzarella to turn it into a Caprese Salad.

The second is more of a chunky salsa using the fresh flavors of Mexican cooking. For this version, I rough chopped the tomatoes with some red onion, green bell pepper, garlic, lime, cilantro and of course olive oil,  salt and pepper. These flavors are naturals with the sweet ripe tomato and the addition of some hot peppers (I used a jalapeno and a cherry bomb) kicks this up to another level. Make sure you are careful with the hot peppers though and use caution when chopping and with your hands after as the oil from the peppers can remain on hands for some time. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cannelli Bean Stuffed Mushrooms

I just love to stuff vegetables. They come in so many cute sizes and shapes and they make for a perfect individual serving. Usually there is some grain in stuffing - commonly breadcrumbs or rice but I have used a few quinoa alternatives as well as grain free stuffing. This dinner uses a white beans as the base of the stuffing which is a protein packed way to get all your nutrients in. I love mixing the beans with fresh herbs and citrus to give it a bigger punch of flavor. This recipe is very simple and easy and can be adapted for other vegetables. I served the mushrooms on a simple salad- they can be made in advance and packed up for a quick meal. 

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Cap 
4 large mushroom caps - gills and stem removed 
1 zucchini - diced
1 yellow pepper - diced 
1/2 onion - diced 
1 c parsley - freshly chopped
1 can canellini beans - strained and rinsed 
1 c feta cheese 
juice of 1 lemon 
2 garlic cloves - diced
salt & pepper
olive oil

1) Coat the mushroom caps with olive oil and season with salt & pepper - place in a hot pan
2) When liquid starts to seep out of the cap remove from the heat 
3) Add oil to pan, heat oil 
4) Saute garlic then add onions and peppers.
5) Once softened add beans and the zucchini 
6) After a few minutes remove from heat and stir in parsley, feta, lemon juice and season with salt & pepper
7) Place mushrooms back into pan and add a spoon full of topping, cover and heat on medium for 5-7 min until cheese is melted and herbs softened
8) Carefully remove from pan with spatula - can be served hot or cold