Spice-Rubbed Flank Steak with Salsa

Spice-Rubbed Flank Steak with Salsa

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Before the deluge of rain hit the East Coast this week (seriously, will it ever stop?!), we squeezed in one last dinner from the grill. I still had a flank steak in the freezer, so we decided to make a night of it and celebrate the end of summer/beginning of fall the right way: a hot off the grill, perfectly moist steak, homemade salsa, sweet potato fries and a cold drink (thank you to my partner-in-crime husband who manages all things on the grill and really made this meal happen!)

Growing up, my step-father was (and is) quite the spice master. He would whip up his own combination of spices for nearly every meal we had and, when asked what was in it, without fail he’d reply, “Oh, just a little of this and a little of that.” The best of those combinations was (at least in my opinion) those he created for the grill. Without hesitation, he would grab bottles from the cabinet sprinkling, shaking, and occasionally pouring his way to the perfect combination.

Admitted, I’m not quite as confident  a chef when it comes to dry rubs; however, following in my step-father’s footsteps, I tried to be flexible with the recipe below and it came out far better than I hoped for. Edit the chili powder to your family’s liking (some like it hot! others don’t …) but be sure not to nix the brown sugar–it really makes the meal.

Spice-Rubbed Flank Steak with Salsa
Adapted from Tony Rosenfeild’s recipe for Fine Cooking

3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T dried thyme
1 T ground black pepper
1 T chili powder
2 t brown sugar
1 T salt
1 large flank steak (about 1.5 lbs)

Salsa
1 large ride tomato, finely diced
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 medium cucumber, finely diced
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2-3 T. red whine vinegar
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, combine all of the spices (garlic through salt) and mix well.

Arrange your steak on a rimmed baking sheet so that it is laying flat. Pour half of the spice mixture on top of the steak and use your hands to spread it evenly over the steak, pressing the spices into the surface. Repeat on the opposite side. Cover and let stand for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all salsa ingredients, adding the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir, cover and refrigerate while steak rests.

Remove the steak from the refrigerator and allow it to return to remove temperature (still covered) while you prepare your grill. We use charcoal and make it pretty hot. On a gas grill, you would likely set it to medium-high.

When your grill is hot, grill the steak 4-5 minutes per side (or 6-7 minutes, if you prefer your steaks more well done).

Let the steak rest on a cutting board with a juice well for 5 minutes before cutting into it. This will allow the steak to finish cooking and you will not lose as much of its juice.

Thinly slice the steak across the grain. Serve with salsa poured over the top or as a side. Either is delicious.

Serves 4-6.

Summer Squash Parmesan

Summer Squash Parmesan

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Since summer officially ends this weekend, I wanted to share one last recipe we’ve loved this summer: Summer Squash Parmesan. I discovered a new source for recipes/inspiration this summer: NYT Cooking. They are on target with what’s in season and what works for weeknights vs. the weekend and have simply been pretty in line with my summertime cravings for fresh, delicious food. It is well worth falling down the rabbit hole over there (and it is most definitely a rabbit hole of recipes, articles, and general food-related inspiration).

The original version of this recipe used fresh tomatoes from the garden (something we are currently without as renters) and was vegetarian. I subbed in a large can of whole peeled tomatoes and then added some sausage to add some extra flavor given the use of canned over fresh (and let’s be honest, I love a dish with sausage). The NYT also used zucchini alone for this recipe, but in the spirit of using what I had, I used an overgrown yellow squash from my parents’ garden and a zucchini together and found it quite satisfying.

What I like about this dish is it meets my cravings for Italian, without being heavy. Since it is sans pasta and has minimal cheese, the entire things feels much lighter than expected (and you don’t have to feel guilty about seconds). We served this with fresh bread and, another summertime favorite, watermelon diced and tossed with a little lime juice. I’ll be honest, I was a bit sad when the leftovers were gone.

Summer Squash Parmesan
Adapted from NYT Cooking

2 lb. summer squash (yellow squash, zucchini or a mix preferred)
salt and pepper
1/2-1 t. red pepper flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 recipe for Tomato Sauce with Sausage (see below)

Tomato Sauce with Sausage
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 lb. ground pork sausage
2-4 garlic cloves, minced (to taste)
1 28. oz jar no salt added whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 c. red wine
salt and pepper
pinch of white sugar
1-2 t. dried basil (to taste)

Preheat your oven to 450°. Trim the ends off of your squash before cutting the squash in half crosswise. Slice your squash lengthwise into 1/4-1/3″ pieces. Season both sides with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and toss with olive oil (approximately 2 tablespoons). Arrange your slices of squash on a baking sheet in one layer. Roast for 12 minutes until lightly browned and easily pierced with a knife.

While your squash roasts, in a deep skillet, sauté onion in olive oil. Add pork sausage and cook until sausage crumbles. Drain off some of the excess fat, leaving approximately a tablespoon in the pan. Add tomatoes, red wine, salt, pepper, and sugar. Use your spoon to roughly chop up the tomatoes in the pan until they are bite-size pieces. Bring to boil and then reduce heat. Add basil to taste.

When the squash is cooked, remove from oven and reduce heat to 375°. Grease a 9×9 baking pan and assemble your dish. Spread 1/4 cup of sauce over the bottom, followed by a layer of squash (approximately 1/3rd of your squash). Spoon approximately 1/3rd of the remaining sauce over your squash and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Repeat 2 times, finishing with the remainder of your Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until bubbling and browned at the top and edges. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.