One of the best parts of summer, aside from this “beautiful” weather we’ve been having, is all of the wonderful produce that’s available. In the summer, food is allowed to be simple, and usually tastes best when it is. I know I’ve mentioned before that I love salads because of their infinite diversity, but I also love them because they are the perfect way to prepare a well rounded meal, when you don’t have much time to cook. Here are two salads that celebrate the season, are simple to prepare and won’t leave you hungry.
Steak Salad with Mixed Greens, Grilled Pickled Ramps, Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Time: 30 minutes
Serving Size: 2
Difficulty Level: Easy – Medium (if you like your steak cooked correctly)
- a pan or grill pan
- a bowl
- a cutting board
- a knife
- 1 package skirt steak (this might be closer to 3 portions, but you can eat the leftovers on a sandwich tomorrow)
- cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8 basil leaves, chiffonade*
- baby mixed lettuces
- pickled ramps**
- 2 spring onions
- 2 tbs goat cheese
- 5 tbs red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- pam or canola oil
- salt & pepper to taste
If you have time, marinate your steak a few hours before you plan on cooking it, or even in the morning before work. You can place the steak and marinade in a Tupperware, cover it and put it in the refrigerator. For the marinade, combine the basil, 3 tbs red wine vinegar, 3 tbs olive oil and a dash of black pepper. Coat the meat, cover and put in the refrigerator. *To chiffonade your basil, lay the leaves on top of each other and then roll them up from one end to the other. Then, with your knife, cut width wise in very small cuts. The French word “chiffonade” loosely translates to “ribbons,” which is what your basil should look like once it is cut and unrolled.
Once your steak is marinated, heat your pan or grill pan. I like using a grill pan in the summer because, like most city dwellers, I don’t have a yard or terrace with the luxury of a real grill. A grill pan will not give your food the taste of a real grill, however it’s a hot heat method that can give steak a nice char. WARNING: if your kitchen has no vent or window near by, do not use a grill pan. They get very smoky and you will have to surrender to your smoke alarm before your steak has proper time to cook. If this is your situation, I suggest broiling your steak, making sure to flip it half way so each side gets cooked evenly. If you are using a grill pan, heat it over medium high flame, and spray with pam or brush with canola or vegetable oil. It’s not usually a great idea to use olive oil on a grill pan, because it has a lower smoking point and won’t be able to handle the high heat of the pan. You only want to spray or brush a light layer of oil on the pan, otherwise it could catch on fire. Skirt steak is great on a grill pan because its very thin and therefore can cook quickly without letting the sides get burned. Remove any excess marinade from the steak with your fingers. Salt the steak and then cook no more than 5 minutes on each side (same goes for if you decide to broil it). Once your steak is cooked, allow it to rest on a cutting board while you prepare the rest of your salad.
I used pickled ramps in my salad because I happened to have pickled some the other day. If you have pickled ramps, I suggest drying them out in the oven for a few minutes and then throwing them on the grill pan for about 5 minutes. If you can’t find any or just don’t want to deal with looking, you can take your spring onions, cut them in half, length-wise, and put them on an oiled grill until they brown. You could also just slice the spring onions thinly, and put them in your salad raw, as I did.
In a bowl, mix together the rest of your red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and some salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil you have left. I like to whisk my dressings, but a fork will suffice. Then, toss your lettuce, spring onions & cherry tomatoes together with the dressing. Slice your steak. You want to slice the steak against the grain. You can cut your steak into whatever length you want your slices to be. Cut in a downward angle toward your non cutting hand. Plate the salad first, then top with your sliced steak, ramps or grilled onions, and finally, sprinkle goat cheese on top.
Shredded Chicken & Corn Salad with Red Peppers and Goat Cheese
This salad is EXTREMELY easy to make and equally delicious. Corn, when its good is so sweet and flavorful. This recipe uses a sweeter vinaigrette to compliment the sweetness of the corn.
Time: 20 Minutes
Difficulty Level: It’s so easy you might eat this every night for the rest of the summer.
Serving Size: 2
- a cutting board
- a pot
- a knife
- a bowl
- a roast chicken breast, skin removed and shredded
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 ears of corn*
- mixed baby lettuces
- 2 tbs red wine vinegar
- 3 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs fruit jam (strawberry or raspberry is best)
- salt and pepper to taste
- goat cheese for garnish
Bring a salted pot of water to a boil. Stand each ear of corn up and cut carefully down each side, removing the kernels from each side. Place the kernels in the boiling water for about a minute. Drain. Put kernels in the freezer for about 5 minutes to allow them to cool.
In a bowl, mix the vinegar, jam and salt and pepper until combined. Slowly add oil. Add chicken, corn, peppers and lettuce and toss together. Plate and sprinkle with goat cheese. Yep – it’s that easy!