Dani Goes South.

lunches

Flank Steak Salad with Roasted Baby Potatoes, Snap Peas, & Hand-Torn Croutons

Dinners, SaladsDani ColombattoComment
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I'm starting this week off on a salad note, because I ate my weight in spinach dip, wings, and stuffed mushrooms yesterday. Though, this salad feels less like a salad, and more just like steak, on a bed of greenery, cuddling with crispy potatoes and croutons. 

The flank steak in this salad is so flavorful, with a rosemary-balsamic marinade, cooked to medium-rare, tender goodness. The crisp, sweet snap peas, buttery leeks, and creamy avocado are necessary balancing elements to the richness of the flank steak, and the crunchy, fried-like texture of the potatoes and croutons. A lemony, dijon vinaigrette cuts through with all the brightness, and parmigiano-reggiano sits atop it all as the cheese queen she is. 

This is the lazy-gal's salad dream. It's so hands-off, except for maybe 5 minutes. Make it for a get-together, and be like 75% less stressed. 

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The marinading should happen as early as you can/want it to (up to 24 hours prior). Smash 2 garlic cloves with coarse salt, and grind them into a paste with the side of your knife. The salt releases the oils and moisture in the garlic, making it easier to smash. Chop 2 sprigs rosemary. Mix together your garlic and rosemary mixture with a drizzle of olive oil, creating essentially, a paste (or, as my stepdad Ricky calls it, a mulch, haha!) Season your steak generously with salt and pepper, and slather on your rosemary/garlic mixture add to a large freezer bag. Whisk together your balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and dijon mustard, and add to your freezer bag. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (longer for better results). 

Preheat your oven to 400F and add your potatoes to a large sheet pan. Season with olive oil, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Roast, skin side up (so the fleshy side crisps), for about 20 minutes, tossing, and roasting an additional 10 minutes. Set aside. To a large saucepan, add a tablespoon butter, and saute your leeks until they start to become translucent. Add your snap peas, and season with salt and pepper. Toss, cooking until they become even more bright green. You want them to remain crisp, so just for about 3-4 minutes on medium low heat. Set aside. 

Remove your flank steak from the refrigerator. You want it to come closer to room temperature before cooking. 

Hand tear your bread and add to a large sheet tray, seasoning with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for about 5-7 minutes, watching closely, toss, and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Make your vinaigrette. Add your Dijon, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper to a jar, and shake until fully emulsified.

In a large, cast iron skillet, heat 2 tbs olive oil on high heat, once skillet is fully heated, lower to medium-high, and add your flank steak. Cook about  3 minutes on each side, making not to move it around so you achieve a nice sear. Return to a board and cover with foil to rest for 10 minutes. 

Slice your steak thinly, against the grain, and assemble that salad. 

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In the Elaine Bennis-esque category of "Big Salads" this one checks all the boxes. Tender flank steak, crisp, herbaceous potatoes, crunchy croutons made with bread you'd actually want to eat by itself, and all the veggies to make you feel like you're still doing your body a favor. I'm ready to book an airbnb with this salad, and hold its hand through some wineries. Happy monday, ya'll. 

Flank Steak Salad

(serves 4-5)

1 Flank Steak 

1 Head romaine lettuce

Roughly 15 baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved (any baby potatoes will do)

1 rosemary sprig

1 1/2 Cups snap peas

1 leek

1 Roma tomato

1 Avocado

Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/4 Baguette (or 3 slices good bread)

For the Marinade:

1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

"Taco" Salad with Cumin-Spiced Crispy Chicken + The Most Addictive Cilantro Dressing Ever

Salads, DinnersDani ColombattoComment
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Let's talk about salads, baby. Let's talk about you and me. Let's talk about copying Trader Joe's cilantro dressing, 'cause that's EXACTLY what I set out to do (and when I get a food replication in mind, it's like a weird eye twitch that won't go away until I accomplish my mission). Not how the song goes? Aw, shucks. 

I was never one of those kids who fought salad. My grandpa actually called me rabbit most of my young life. I loved a tacky salad bar more than probably most new toys. When the server gave the go-ahead to go get myself a giant plate, while other people were still ordering, it always felt like I had inherently pulled some sort of wool over the adult's eyes, when in reality, they were probably like "Cool, you just enjoy that germ casserole, child. Now run along so we can break out the curse words."  Regardless, I was a happy camper, and to this day, the love affair continues. 

This particular salad, however, I'm ready to be my forever salad. As per previous mention, the inception of this salad was a craving I had for TJ's cilantro vinaigrette that I used to buy all the time in college. I don't enjoy the notion of being put in the box of having to go buy one pre-made item, so I love dissecting my favorite things wherever I can, and turning them into something I can whip up in minutes at home. 

This salad is the perfect balance of freshness and texture. To make it a fully rounded meal, I made a panko-crusted, chili and cumin-spiced chicken, which fortifies the taco vibes. Avo for creaminess, cherry tomatoes for a bright pop, green onions for some light heat, and finally, toasted pepitas, and freshly fried tortilla strips for the crunch factor. This salad has a lot going on, and it should probably consider booking a weekend AirBnb for a little sweet rejuv. 

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Make your dressing. If you are planning on having this salad the next day, you're in luck! This dressing gets better if it has a chance to chill for about 24hrs, and really, isn't that the case with all of us?

I love making this dressing with an immersion blender in an airtight container I can pop directly into the fridge, but if you don't have one, you can't go wrong with a food processor or blender. Add an avocado (roughly chopped), your cilantro, shallot, garlic clove, lime zest, red wine vinegar, and puree until smooth. Next, add your cotija (feta is a great substitute ), sour cream, lime juice, and salt and pepper, and puree once more. Then, slowly drizzle in your olive oil while blending. Test for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Press plastic wrap directly on top of the dressing, cover with lid, and refrigerate at least 1 hour (but up to 24). 

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Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and make your chicken. Gather 3 shallow dishes (pie plates work great), and in one add your flour plus 3/4 tsp each ground cumin and chili powder, in another your panko breadcrumbs plus 3/4 tsp each ground cumin and chili powder, and in your last one, beat 2 eggs. Season your flour/panko mixtures with salt and pepper, and mix. Dredge your chicken, starting with flour, then egg, and ending with the panko mixture. Place your chicken on a baking sheet lined with a wire rack, so the chicken has opportunity to crisp on all sides, and drizzle with vegetable oil. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 160 degrees. 

While your chicken is cooking, toast your pepitas in a dry pan, and set aside. Cut your tortillas into roughly 3" strips, and heat about 2" vegetable oil in a heavy skillet. Add your tortilla strips, and cook in batches, until golden brown, and set atop paper towels to drain. When your chicken is done, set aside to rest for 10 minutes before slicing, and assemble all your salad veg!

Add your green leaf lettuce (or frankly, whatever your lettuce jam is), chopped cilantro, cherry tomatoes, chopped green onions, and avocado, sprinkle with cotija, your pepitas and tortilla strips, reserving more for people to add after they've dished out. 

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Something about the creaminess of the dressing paired with all that fresh cilantro, and the crunchiness of the chicken, tortillas, and pepitas is SO satisfying. I first made this dressing about 2 1/2 months ago, and I've probably made this salad 10 times since then. So much so, that I declared an official break from it, only to be writing this post, reactivating my craving. The irony! What recipes are you guys major repeat offenders with? I'd love to hear!

With that, I actually woke up 29 today, so I'm off to ponder my b-day dinner outfit, and eat many many oysters. Cheers to you on this fine, fine, hump day friends. 

"Taco" Salad with Cumin Spiced Chicken and Addictive Cilantro Dressing

Cilantro Dressing

1/2 large bunch cilantro, chopped

1 avocado

1 small shallot

1 garlic clove

1/2 cup cotija cheese (or substitute feta)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tbs sour cream

Zest of 1 lime

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Olive oil (eyeball)

Salt and pepper to taste

Chili and Cumin Spiced Chicken

1 cup flour + 3/4 tsp each ground chili and cumin

1 cup panko breadcrumbs 3/4 tsp each ground chili and cumin

2 eggs, beaten

3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts

Cilantro Salad

1 head lettuce of choice

1 /2 large bunch cilantro, hand torn

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

3 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup pepitas, toasted

2 cups tortilla strips

1/2 cup cotija (sub feta)