Leftover: Steak and Quinoa

What’s that? You have some cooked quinoa sitting in the fridge or some dry hanging out in the pantry, and you don’t know what to do with it? It’s your lucky day! Not only is there a previous recipe for a quinoa salad on this site, but I tried out a new one last night that’s equally refreshing. This one involved peas, basil, lemon, a great dressing that could pull double duty over greens; basically, everything that screams “summer.”

The recipe came from one of my bookmarked cooking sites, Food 52. I followed the recipe, only excluding the hemp seed and using 3 cups of cooked quinoa, so I won’t include the recipe below. It’s a simple side to pull together (even after a long-ish run and not getting home until 6:30, I was able to stir this up in about 30 minutes using cooked quinoa I already had on hand) and is incredibly flavorful. I admit, I was skeptical about the dressing at first, but it ended up pairing well with the quinoa, basil, and peas. The next time around I may include some lemon zest (just because I’m a sucker for citrus pops of flavor) and maybe some red pepper to provide some contrasting crunch. Other than that, this was the perfect complement to some mock tender steak that was begging to be used.

Another great summer side? Sauteed onion, squash, and zucchini. If you’ve ever grown squash or live in the South and leave your car unlocked only to come back and find squash in the front seat, you know how easily this vegetable can multiply. People become crazed after the excitement of the first squash of the season dissipates, and you start getting emails at work begging you to please, please take some squash home. There’s too much. Then you run into those same people in the hall, and they become like drug pushers, only the drugs are squash. We chose not to plant any squash in our garden this year, instead trying out some cantaloupe and preserving our sanity. Hopefully. This has turned out to be a wise decision since my parents are growing some monstrosities and are desperate to give away as much as they can because there are only so many ways you can fix squash and zucchini before you become incredibly tired of it. Luckily, I’m not bored with it yet, and sauteing squash with onions is still my favorite way to consume such a pervasive veggie. Just heat some olive oil in a saute pan (or a wok), throw in sliced onions and squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 20 minutes (or until fork-tender).


Mock Tender Steak

Saturdays in this household mean farmers market days. And that makes for a happy Mindy. I promised no lectures about eating local foods, so no lecture will be given. Let’s just say that whenever I visit the market my mind is full of twirling Marias (you know, “Sound of Music”) and sugar plum fairies and gumdrops and whatever else anyone associates with the holidays. That was an extensive way of saying it’s like Christmas to me. You never know what you’ll find, and there’s always something there to surprise you.

Because 85-90% of our groceries come from the market, I’ve gotten to know a few of the vendors. And yes, we have a dedicated red meat/pork guy. This man knows his cuts, and he knows how to prepare them. I knew I wanted something relatively cheap that would go a long way (or at least make leftovers for lunch the next day), something I could marinate. So, my guy suggested a mock tender steak.

I’ve become a purist when it comes to steaks. I like them medium rare (tending more toward rare), and I don’t like for them to be covered in sundry food (if it’s slathered with cheese and veggies and myriad ingredients, I think you’re trying to hide something, like a Frank Costanza meat coverup). I think the best option is a good marinade, salt, and pepper. And that’s it. And if you cook it past medium rare, I think the cow died in vain.

So, for this, I reverted to my standard marinade (below). A good five- to six-hour soaking in the marinade left the meat super tender. Good stuff. I made two sides for this: salt & vinegar potatoes, a la Martha Stewart. I’ve made these several times in the past; the key is a long soak in vinegar (I prefer apple cider, which is a little sweeter) and a good sprinkling of salt. The other side dish was roasted onions and tomatoes–for me, nothing is as simple or quite as tasty as roasted veggies. They make the perfect side for nearly every savory dish.

Mock Tender Steak and Marinade (for 2)

1/2 pound mock tender steak

2-3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. honey

Hot sauce

Salt and pepper

Whisk together the vinegar, honey, hot sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Place the steak in a Ziploc bag, pour in the marinade, seal up the bag, and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to start up the grill, pull out the steaks and let them come to room temperature. Heat your grill (I use a cast iron grill on the stove) over medium high, coat with olive oil, then throw on the steaks once the grill is heated. Because we prefer grass-finished beef, the meat cooks faster. So, for medium rare, I went with 3.5 minutes per side. Now, the important part: Let this rest!! Don’t touch it or cut it; just pull the steaks off the grill, place on a plate, and cover with aluminum foil for 10 minutes. Seriously, do not cut or poke the meat while it’s resting! This ensures that the juices will be sealed into the steak, so when you do cut into it, there is a glorious flow of steaky, juicy goodness.

Salt & Vinegar Potatoes

10 c. water

4-5 potatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick or into wedges (I used a mixture of red and Yukon gold potatoes, but Russets could easily be subbed in here)

1.5 c. vinegar (I prefer apple cider, but the original recipe calls for white vinegar, which is just a bit more pungent and acidic; if you use Russet potatoes, which are larger, add 1/2 c. of vinegar for a total of 2 cups)

2 Tbsp. salt (plus more to season the potatoes later)

Olive oil


Bring the water to boil, then remove from heat. Stir in the vinegar and 2 Tbsp. salt until the salt is dissolved. Drop in the cut potatoes and let soak (again, not on any heat) for at least 1 hour. About 15 minutes before the potatoes are done soaking, drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil in a glass casserole dish, small roasting pan, or baking sheet. Set your oven to 450 degrees, and place the glass dish/pan/sheet in the oven to let the oil heat up (this will help prevent excess sticking and ensure proper crisping). Meanwhile, drain and pat the potatoes dry (removing excess water will ensure adequate external crisping while the inside of the potato remains soft). Toss the potatoes with a coating of olive oil, 2-3 tsp. salt, and pepper. Remove chosen roasting dish from the oven, pour in the potatoes, and place the dish back into the oven. Roast for 35 minutes, flipping the potatoes halfway through the baking time. When finished, season more as needed with salt, and serve with malt vinegar (or, if you’re like me, ketchup).

Roasted Tomatoes and Onions

1 yellow onion, sliced thin

2-3 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced in half

Fresh rosemary and oregano, chopped

Salt and pepper

Place onion slices and tomato halves in a glass bowl. Sprinkle in the fresh herbs and salt and pepper; toss. Now, this can go in a separate baking dish (i.e., apart from the potatoes) or you could add them into the same dish as the potatoes, just clearing a designated “spot” when you pull the potatoes out halfway through their roasting time. Either way, the onions/tomatoes will need to roast at 450 degrees for about 17-20 minutes.