salad

summery steak salad with chili lime dressing

OMG it’s actually summer now!

summery steak salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

It’s already felt like summer for weeks, but according to the dates on the calendar, it’s official now. Summer, with it’s long days and sunshine, picnics and parties, and farm stands and markets filled with fresh produce. Bright, vibrant, sweet, crunchy, juicy, wonderful, delicious produce.

summery steak salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know it’s not really corn season just yet here in New York, but real fresh sweet corn is starting to show up in the grocery store and that’s good enough for me. I seriously LOVE the first sweet corn of the season. It’s just so much sweeter and crunchier than the frozen bagged corn I’ve been eating all winter. I know the local stuff will be even fresher, sweeter, and more delicious, but it’s not time yet and I need my fix.

I’m not ashamed to admit that after slicing off the kernels, I was standing alone in the kitchen nibbling away at the ears to get at those last juicy little golden bits.

summery steak salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

When corn is fresh and ripe, it’s sweet and crunchy enough to go straight into the salad raw, right off the ear. For an extra layer of flavor though, I tossed the corn into a screaming hot cast iron pan for a couple minutes to roast the kernels just a bit.

summery steak salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Along with the corn, I added crisp sweet slices of red bell pepper, romaine lettuce for body and crunch, red onion for bite, and big chunks of ripe avocados for their soft creamy texture. Then the cherry on top of it all was thinly sliced tender juicy steak.

summery steak salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I think London Broil is perfect for this salad. It’s not too fatty, with nice even marbling, and free of any gristle or nastiness. Flank steak would work really well too. Either way, it’s best if you slice it super thin with a very sharp knife. Russell likes his more cooked than I do, so I sliced the steak in half and put his on a few minutes before mine. If everyone likes it the same way though, there’s no need. Generously season your steak, get your pan screaming hot, and let it go for a few minutes on either side. It really just takes a few minutes. You can cook it as much as you like, but it’ll be more tender, and better for a salad, at about medium rare or medium.

Quick side note, don’t attempt searing your steak on a non-stick pan. The high heat will ruin the surface. It’s best to use a cast iron or stainless steel skillet, but if you don’t have one you can put your steak under the broiler or on the grill instead.

summery steak salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

To pair with the sweet crisp veggies in the salad, I wanted a bright acidic dressing with a bit of spice. I chose to go for little more than a couple freshly squeezed limes with their zest, some good extra virgin olive oil, a touch of honey, and a bit of cayenne pepper and chili powder for spice. The dressing is really quick to throw together, and it really is the perfect compliment to all the other elements of this salad. Tangy, crisp, sweet, and acidic, with just a hint of heat.

summery steak salad with chili lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Summery Steak Salad with Chili Lime Dressing

Dressing:
zest and juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (if desired)

Combine all ingredients in a dressing bottle or measuring cup and whisk or shake vigorously.

Salad:
1 lb london broil
1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if desired)
1 large head romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 ears sweet corn
1/2 medium red onion, sliced into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 avocado, cut into large bite-sized chunks

Season steak on both sides with salt, pepper, chili powder, and cayenne, and set aside to rest. Shuck the corn and slice the kernels off the ear using a sharp knife. I hold the ear straight up and down with the butt end on a board, and shave down with my knife. Add 1/2 the tablespoon of olive oil to a preheated skillet and roast kernels over high heat for about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring infrequently, until they just begin to brown. Set aside, wipe out the skillet, and add remaining olive oil. Sear your steak for 3-6 minutes on either side, flipping only once. Depending on the thickness of the steak, 3 minutes per side should get you to about medium rare, and 6 should get you closer to medium well. Remove steak to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 5 minutes while you prepare the rest of the salad. Chop, wash, and dry romaine and add to a large bowl with roasted corn, red onion, bell pepper, and avocado. Top with dressing and toss until well combined. Plate your tossed salad and top with steak sliced into super thin strips.

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts

I know. It’s been a while since I posted last. I’m really sorry folks.
I had a pretty nasty cold last week and then I went upstate to visit family for a few days.
warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

My mother is in the midst of renovating an old house, so I was pretty busy when I was home and didn’t bring my computer with me to distract me from the task at hand. The house needed to be completely gutted and redone because there were plumbing issues, a leaky roof, cracked plaster, and non-existent insulation. She opted for a beautiful metal roof, which is almost finished, but the interior of the home is still stripped down to the studs. Luckily the original moldings and hardwood floors are still in place, but there’s little else intact. I’m not entirely sure how (or if) I’ll do it, but I might end up sharing the progress with you, because I’m a crazy person and I love home renovations and big old houses. While I was home we were driving all over the world choosing flooring and finishes for the upstairs bathroom. I’m sure you’re fascinated. I hope you’re fascinated.

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

Anyways, like I said, I had a cold just before I left. I’m a total whiney little baby when I’m sick, and I also tend to get ravenously hungry. I made this salad when I was feeling well enough to spend some time in the kitchen, because I was looking for something healthy and filling, and packed with flavor since I couldn’t taste much. It really didn’t disappoint.

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

Russell has been completely obsessed with farro lately, and it’s starting to rub off on me. If you’re not familiar with farro, it’s a whole grain that’s often used in salads, soups, sides, and breakfasts dishes, or cooked like risotto. Most people think of and refer to farro as one variety of grain, but there are actually three different types composed of the grains of three ancient species of wheat. The most common found in the US, and the one you might already be familiar with, comes from Emmer wheat. It’s earthy, nutty, chewy and really satisfying. It’s also packed with fiber, vitamin B3, and zinc. Zinc is my favorite things to overload on to help cure a cold, so that was a great bonus!

If you’ve not had a chance to try farro yet, I’d really recommend it. Not only is it good for you, it’s also great tasting and versatile. It maintains its chewy texture better than rice or pasta in liquid, so it’s especially ideal for soups and dishes with a bit of moisture. I used semi-pearled farro which is probably the easiest kind to find. It has some (but not all) of its bran removed so it cooks up in about 30 minutes and doesn’t require overnight soaking like the whole-grain variety. It is not gluten-free, but it does have a significantly lower gluten content than most modern varieties of wheat.

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

This salad was just what the doctor ordered. It’s filling and savory with just a hint sweetness and tang. It also has a wonderful mix of textures and flavors. The chewy farro, crunchy cashews, creamy goat cheese, and tender brussels sprouts with a bit of bite inside made for such an interesting and satisfying combination. The sweet and tangy dressing, sweet tart cherries, nutty farro, and toasty roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes all pair really well together and made every bite super flavorful and delicious.

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

I would say that this salad is best when its first tossed together and still warm, but it was pretty tasty served cold with lunch the next day too. It somehow tasted sweeter cold so if you’d prefer to serve it chilled you might want to cut back on the cherries or tone down the honey in the dressing. Also, if you plan to make this ahead, I’d suggest that you wait to add the cashews until just before serving, as they can absorb moisture and oils from the dressing and lose their crunch.
When you’re mixing in the goat cheese, be careful not to squish it. It’s so soft and creamy and so mildly flavored that it could get lost in the salad if it’s completely incorporated. I think it’s best if there are some separate gobs of it interspersed throughout the salad.

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

2 cups semi-pearled farro
3 cups small brussels sprouts, washed and halved
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes (about 3 cups of cubes)
1 red onion, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 cup cashews, roughly chopped
1/3 dried cherries, roughly chopped
2-3 oz goat cheese

dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Combine farro, 6 cups of water, and 1 tsp of salt in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, place sweet potato cubes into a heat proof bowl, and cover with enough boiling water to cover completely. Let soak for 10 minutes. Carefully drain and pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly over a parchment lined sheet pan. Set aside.
In the same bowl, toss halved brussels sprouts and onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly over another parchment lined sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes along with the sweet potatoes.
Add roasted sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, & onions, as well as the chopped cherries and cashews to the bowl with the farro while everything is still warm.
In a large measuring cup combine all ingredients for the dressing and whisk until well combined. Pour over salad and mix until incorporated. Crumble goat cheese over the salad and lightly toss to combine.

Mixed Green Salad with Seared Chicken & Orange Vinaigrette

After the red velvet cake post last week I thought I should attempt to share something healthy-ish. You know, something that doesn’t call for 2 cups of oil and multiple sticks of butter. If you based any ideas of what my diet might look like on my blog posts, you’d probably think 75% of what I ate was cake. Well. I really like cake. What can I say? No, really though, I promise I eat real food sometimes too.

mixed green salad with pears, snap peas, seared chicken & orange vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

If I’ve had a busy day at work, or have very little time to get dinner together, I think a nice big salad with a bunch of stuff it is a really good way to go. You can buy pre-washed greens, and even bottled dressing if you like. Then just cook off some protein, usually steak or chicken in my house, while you prepare all your veggies. Now, I’m really not into the idea of eating a salad, or any meal for that matter, just because it’s healthy. I could definitely stand to lose a few pounds, but I think as long as I eat fresh homemade food, and balance the sweets with plenty of vegetables, I’ll be just fine. I don’t want to go to all the trouble of making a something if it doesn’t taste like anything. I like my food to be full flavor, so when it comes to salads I tend to go all out and load them up with all kinds of good things.

mixed green salad with pears, snap peas, seared chicken & orange vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

A hearty filling salad can be really easy to make with a wide variety of vegetables, and I usually like to throw in some fruit for sweetness. I generally like to do a few laps through the produce department and see if anything calls out to me. For this salad, I really had no preconceived ideas of what I wanted when I walked into the grocery store, but before I knew it I had something taking shape. I grabbed some chicken breast, a beautiful red bell pepper, a half pound of sugar snap peas, and some nice ripe bosc pears and I was almost finished. I thought a light citrusy dressing would tie everything together so I picked up a big naval orange, and I figured the salad could use something rich with a little crunch so I grabbed a shallot to fry up. All that was left was some organic spring mix and I was good to go.

If I’m eating a salad as my dinner I like it to have a lot going on to make it feel like a substantial meal.  I try to follow a very loose formula of a few different veggies or fruit mixed into some greens with a protein. I usually like to add some richness to my salads with something just a bit fatty and salty. This can be some crispy bacon bits or chewy lardons, a bit of crumbled or shredded cheese, a handful of toasted nuts or seeds, or even just a creamy dressing. A little bit of fat goes a long way to make a salad feel more filling and complete. For this salad I decided some fried shallots would serve my needs just fine.

mixed green salad with pears, snap peas, seared chicken & orange vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I got home I washed all my produce and set to work. I made up a sweet & slightly spicy vinaigrette with the zest and juice from my orange and a tiny bit of cayenne pepper. Then I sliced my pepper and pear into thin strips and cut the stem ends off of my snap peas. I thought a carrot would be a welcome addition and I had plenty at home so I decided to go for it. Grated carrots are great in salads, but I love to have super long, super thin strips of carrots. A few months ago I picked up a julienne peeler and now it’s seriously my new favorite kitchen tool. The one I use is made by Kuhn Rikon and is available here. It makes light easy work of cutting carrots into long, thin, even strips. This can be done on a mandolin cutter, but sometimes carrots and other harder vegetables can be tough to get through the teeth and blade on a mandolin with your fingers in tact. If you have the skills to pay the bills, you can also do this with a knife, but I think it’s much faster and easier with the julienne peeler.

mixed green salad with pears, snap peas, seared chicken & orange vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

After I had my veggies ready to go I set to work pan frying my shallot. I sliced it into very thin discs, separated those with my fingers and dredged them in generously seasoned flour. Then, in a cast iron skillet, I fried them in a few tablespoons of olive oil until they were nice and brown and crunchy. I’m sure that thinly sliced shallots would be great in the salad raw, or you could skip them all together, but fried they add just a touch of saltiness and caramelized crunchiness to an otherwise super light meal. When they were done I transferred them to a paper towel lined plate, and in the same skillet I seared my chicken breasts until well browned and cooked through.

When searing your chicken, or searing anything for that matter, it’s best not to use a non-stick pan. Non-stick pans are not designed to withstand long periods of high heat, no matter what material they’re made of. Teflon, nano-ceramic, it don’t matter. If you want a good pan you can sear in I’d recommend a cast iron skillet or a stainless steel saute pan. Of course, you’ll need to use a bit more butter or oil to cook in these pans, but you can get them screaming hot and not worry about negatively affecting the utility.

Many people tell me they’re intimidated by having to care for and maintain a cast iron skillet, but I promise you it’s not difficult. Most cast iron skillets sold today come pre-seasoned and ready to use, and maintaining the seasoning is pretty simple. There is tons of information on the internet about cast iron care, and it becomes second nature once you get the hang of it.

mixed green salad with pears, snap peas, seared chicken & orange vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

It would be really easy to change this salad to fit your taste by swapping some ingredients out for others. I think it was pretty damned tasty as is though. While fresh, light and healthy, this salad was totally satisfying. Along with the bitterness of the mixed greens, you have a few layers of flavor all tossed together and complimenting each other. There’s sweetness from pepper, peas, carrots & pears. Then there’s the sweet and tangy spice of the vinaigrette, the rich salty crunch of the shallots, and the hearty meatiness of the sliced chicken breast. While this salad might not be something you can throw together in 5 minutes- it is something that can easily be assembled and ready to eat in well under an hour, and I think it makes a great weeknight supper.

mixed green salad with pears, snap peas, seared chicken & orange vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Mixed Green Salad with Pears, Snap Peas, Seared Chicken & Orange Vinaigrette


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons divided
2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove garlic
1 large orange
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper
1 shallot
2 tablespoons of flour
4 small skinless boneless chicken breasts
1/2 lb sugar snap peas
1 red bell pepper
1 ripe bosc pear
1 large carrot
5 oz package spring mix

To make the vinaigrette measure out 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar & honey into a small bowl. Finely zest orange and grate garlic (you can use your zester) and add to bowl. Juice the orange into the bowl, add cayenne pepper and whisk together. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Taste again.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy cast iron or stainless steel pan over medium high heat. Slice shallot into thin disks and separate rings with your fingers. In a small tupperware with a lid (or ziploc bag) season flour with salt and pepper. Add shallots and shake until well coated. Distribute shallots over pan evenly and, stirring every so often, fry them until they’re brown and crunchy but not burnt. Remove with a spoon and drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Turn the pan up to high and get it super hot. The remaining oil will smoke a bit. Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and add to pan. Cook on high for 5-7 minutes per side, or until fully cooked and nicely browned. Remove from pan and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing into thin strips.

While chicken is cooking, remove stem ends from snap peas, and slice bell pepper into thin strips. Cut the ends off your pear, slice in half, and scoop out center and seeds with a spoon. Slice into thin strips. Using a julienne peeler, mandolin, knife or grater, cut carrot into very thin long strips. In a large bowl add spring mix, peas, pepper, pear & carrots, and toss well with vinaigrette. Divide between plates and top with fried shallots and sliced chicken breast.