I cling to summer. It seems the shortest of seasons. Winter must be six months longer. And while I do love my snowshoeing, I can wait. I treasure the idea of enjoying grand summer meals for just another month or two.
I can’t win this war of the seasons. But we can all still win a weekend battle or two. You can still get watermelon, the peppers are perfection, and your butcher just may have a grand cut stashed away.
This is a hot meal, with chili flavor adorning both the steak and salad. You are in control, though, because the suggested amounts of chile, ginger, peppers and honey can all be adjusted by you. The flavors added to the steak — hot and sour — combine with the caramelization of the grill to give you satisfaction. The salad, with the heat of peppers and coolness of the watermelon, is self-contrasting and serves to balance the heat of that steak.
This is a great Saturday night recipe. Easy to prepare, yet satisfying complex in flavor.
If you are grilling this weekend, and you notice leaves falling around you, just ignore them. They are all going away.
Grilled Flank Steak with Spicy Pepper and Watermelon Salad
Yield: 4 servings:
For the Flank Steak:
- 1½ tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoons olive or grape seed oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon rich mushroom soy sauce
- 1½ pounds flank steak
For the Pepper and Watermelon Salad:
- ¼ cup chili sauce (such as sriracha)
- ¼ cup olive oil or grape seed oil
- 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1¼ teaspoons honey
- 2 large bell peppers, preferably assorted colors, diced
- 2 tablespoons minced red chili peppers
- 2 cups seedless watermelon, diced
- Fresh mint, chopped
For the Steak:
Whisk all ingredients except flank steak in a baking dish or bowl large enough to accommodate the steak. Add steak; turn to coat. Cover and let marinate at room temperature up to 2 hours; turning occasionally.
For Pepper and Watermelon Salad:
Whisk hot chili sauce, oil, vinegar, and honey in small bowl; season dressing with salt and pepper. Place peppers and chiles in large bowl. Toss with 6 tablespoons dressing. Set aside.
Preparation and Assembly:
Prepare barbecue or stove-top grill pan over high heat. Grill steak with some marinade still clinging until cooked to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for rare. Transfer to work surface; let rest 10 minutes. Thinly slice steak against grain; transfer to platter. Drizzle with some of remaining dressing from salad.
Toss watermelon into pepper salad. Serve flank steak and salad with remaining dressing alongside.
Source: Dorie Greenspan in Bon Appetite
There are sandwiches and then there are piadinas (pee-yah-DEN-ahs). Never heard of them? Neither had I until I picked up a copy of Grizzled Pizzas and Piadinas by Craig Priebe. Suzen and I are pizza fans so I truly bought the book for new pizza recipes, but we are now enthralled by the piadinas.
This is a Northern Italian flatbread sandwich, with a disk of dough that is flattened then hot grilled for a minute on each side. An infinite variety of fillings can be applied to the middle of the grilled dough, the piadina is folded, and the warm creature is devoured. Start to finish, it’s about an hour to make the dough, let it rest as needed, then grill and stuff. While the dough is resting, you have the perfect time to raid your refrigerator for filling options.
Not only are the filling possibilities endless, but so too are dough combinations. The dough ideas from the book inlcude:
- Classic Unflavored
- Tomato Basil
- Yellow Corn
With those ideas as a starter, you are free to craft a dough that can either complement or contrast with the piadina contents. Preibe offers classic fillings:
- Soppresata with Parmesan Crisps and Honey
- Eggplant and Peppers with Tomato Vinaigrette
- Grilled Chicken with Peso, Pine Nuts, and Olives
- Hard Salami with Greens and Fried Eggs
- Deli Meets with Olive Relish
- Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Basic
- Pancetta, Arugula and Tomato
I was personally in favor of that last one, an Italian BLT. But we had spectacular leftovers that seemed destined for fate in our very own piadina. So, we made the jalapeno dough, then filled it with thinly sliced steak topped with guacamole and onions. Add some good Italian beer and you have dinner for two.
I’ve included the recipe for the jalapeno dough below, along with the grilling instructions. This dough is a light green color with some heat thanks to the combination of cilantro and jalapenos. For classic dough, just leave out the jalapenos and cilantro, but increase the water from ¼ to ½ cup.
Just off the grill, the bare piadina looks big and very likely inflexible. But while still warm, there is no difficulty in topping with filling and then folding over. The dough is thick, but not puffy, and not really chewy. The feel and texture of the grilled bread alone are very satisfying. When you start sampling your filling, you hunger cravings will be soon be ameliorated.
I know that you’ve just gotten used to the idea of panini and now piadinas come along. I won’t say which is better, but when I want something new and exciting, I headed am down the piadina path.
Green Piadina Dough
Yield: 4 piadinas
12 slices of jalapeno chile peppers
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 ½ cups unbleached flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for oiling the dough
Place the peppers in a blender or food processor with the cilantro, water, and lemon juice and blend until smooth.
Add the flour, salt, and olive oil. Use a pulse action until the dough comes together. Continue to pulse the dough in quick bursts for about 3 minutes. This technique keeps the dough from overheating.
When the dough is ready, it will be soft, smooth, and firm. Lightly oil the ball of dough with olive oil. Wrap in plastic and let rest for about 30 minutes. This resting period allows the gluten to relax, creating soft, tender dough easy to roll out.
Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll them into rounds about 8 inches in diameter.
To grill, heat the cooking surface — a flat griddle or skillet or cast-iron frying pan — on medium heat, until it is extremely hot. Test with a drop of water, which will sputter across the surface quickly disappear, and the surface smoke lightly.
Cook one disk at a time. Lay a disk on the hot surface. If the cooking surface is hot enough, the dough will not stick. If it does stick remove the dough, and spray the cooking surface lightly with vegetable oil, or moisten a crumpled paper towel with a drop of vegetable oil and wipe the surface of the grill.
Cook the dough for about 1 minute or until bubbles form on the surface.
Lift the piadina with tongs to check its doneness. The cooked side should have charred little bubbles. Turn over, and cook for another 1 minute, until the bottom is a light brown.
Stack the cooked piadinas in a clean towel and wrap them so they stay warm. For best results serve within 30 minutes of cooking.
Source: Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas by Craig Priebe