Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad
Summer finally arrived about a week ago and it’s been too hot to cook. Too hot for heavy meals and just generally too hot. My favorite thing about this dish adapted from this Shape.com recipe is it’s served chilled and for a light dinner, it is really filling.

Ingredients:
Well-marbled New York steak or a skirt steak, grilled (we broiled and pan-seared a couple of times when it was too hot to grill) to your liking, but preferably no more than medium rare
1 small red onion, sliced into skinny wedges
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped, no stems
Large handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or 1/2 vine-ripened tomatoes cut into wedges)
1 green pepper, sliced thin
2 limes (or about 1/4 to 1/3 cup lime juice)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (you may need more. Note: the original recipe called for palm sugar, but we’ve had a hard time finding it)
1.5 tablespoon fish sauce
Thai chili powder to taste (we found a blend at Penzy’s Spices that we love for this dish – Bangkok blend)

Directions:
Grill, pan-sear or broil the meal as directed above and slice into thin strips after allowing to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Put the brown sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl, add some of the lime juice and mush into a thick liquid form. Add the rest of the lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar.
When the steak has cooled, Add it to the sauce mixture. Toss with your hands to incorporate all over the steak. Add the rest of the veggies, toss and taste. Tasting as you go is the most important part. Add more fish sauce if it needs more salt, or more sugar if it is to lime-y.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so to let the flavors meld. Then serve on a bed of lettuce and garnish cilantro.

My opinion:
You can add the cilantro into the sauce mixture, just give it a rough chop. If you want to quick sautee your veggies in peanut oil (or your favorite cooking oil), feel free it adds another layer of flavor. This is the perfect dish for a hot summer evening.

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Favorite Summer Risotto

I cut this recipe from Self Magazine seven years ago and it’s still one of my most favorite summer dishes.

Ingredients:
1 pint cherry tomatoes (I use a little more)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I use about 4 cloves)
1 small onion, diced (or medium, depending on how much you like onions)
2 cups diced zucchini (feel free to use more!)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pound arborio rice (I just make one recipe, which is about 1 cup dry, otherwise it makes WAY too much rice)
1 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay is my favorite)
2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan (I omit this)
18 sea scallops

Directions:
The original directions have you roasting the tomatoes in the oven for an hour. I skip this. I cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put them in a medium pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat in the same pan. Cook garlic and half the onion until translucent; add zucchini and cook about 5 minutes. Puree zucchini mixture in a blender with lemon juice and 1 tbsp oil (I only puree about 2/3). Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium pot on medium heat and sauté remaining onion until translucent. Add rice and cook 2 minutes. Pour in the wine, stirring until rice absorbs wine. Add broth 1 cup at a time until absorbed, stirring continually for 20 minutes or until rice is tender (add more broth if necessary). Once rice is cooked, stir in zucchini puree, butter and cheese (if using). Set aside. In the same pan you sauteed the tomatoes, onions and zucchini add another tablespoon of olive oil. Salt and pepper one side of the scallops. Put the seasoned side down in the pan. Sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes then flip.

My Opinion:
I’ve made this dish so many times and each time it gets a little better. I’ve learned not to rush the risotto and to not wiggle the scallops to let them get a good sear. This dish reminds me of summer so much that in the middle of winter when I miss summer, I make this dish.

Lemon Thyme Scallops

I was a bit surprised at just how delicious this recipe from Cynthia Sass’s Cinch! book was. It smelled wonderful cooking and tasted even better.

Note: this recipe feeds one. Double if serving two.
Ingredients:
4 ounces (between 5 and 7) sea scallops
1/2 cup wild rice, cooked (we were out and I substituted white, not as tasty)
1 cup spaghetti squash (already steamed)
1 cup grape tomatoes (We used cherry tomatoes because grape wasn’t available at the grocery store)
1 tbs olive oil
2-4 cloves minced garlic
1 tbs lemon juice
about 2 tsp thyme
optional: crushed red pepper and/or black pepper

Directions:
Divide olive in half. Put 1/2 tbs into a skillet and heat to medium (if you like a bit more sear on your scallops try medium high, but keep a close eye on the scallops). Add garlic and scallops, sprinkle with thyme (you can also add a bit of freshly ground black pepper or red pepper). Cook about 4 minutes per side. Flip. Sprinkle with thyme (and more black or red pepper, if you want) and cook about another 4 minutes. Scallops will turn opaque.

Add the rest of the olive oil (should be about 1/2 tbs) to another pan. Heat to medium. Cut the tomatoes in half. Sautee in olive oil until fragrant. Mix the steamed squash and rice together. Plate the squash rice mixture. Top with tomatoes. Remove scallops from the skillet and place on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle with lemon juice. Enjoy!

My Opinion:
I’ll probably add a bit more garlic and definitely the red pepper next time. The dish was flavorful and filling. I even had enough squash left over for lunch the next day!