Weekly Winner:  Seriously Spiced Steak and One Crazy Korean Pasta Salad

You can’t go wrong putting a marinated flank steak on the grill, right?  I mean, you can pretty much marinate it in anything, throw it on a hot grill and you’re going to have a great meal (and hopefully leftovers afterward).  And pasta salad is a very common accompaniment to anything on the grill.  It’s a barbecue staple.  This pasta salad, however is the craziest version I’ve ever put together. There were things in this salad that I never could have imagined putting together in any kind of dish.  I mean, squash, pineapple, and …. peas???  With mayonnaise?  But you know what?  It worked!

Gochujang Flank Steak and Korean Pasta Salad is not for people with timid taste buds.  The steak has some nice subtle heat, but the pasta salad is very spicy. That’s where the pineapple and mayonnaise really works their magic to help cool down the fire in your mouth. But its an addictive heat and can be mitigated by using less gochujang (which I actually might do next time).

The recipe comes from Food & Wine, and if you really want to shake up your next cookout and spice things up a bit, this is your recipe. The recipe calls for cooking the flank steak in a skillet on the stove. That seems sacrilegious to me.  Fire up the grill and let that thing rip!

Gochujang Flank Steak and Korean Pasta Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

STEAK:

6 Tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)

3 Tbsp mirin

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

4 garlic cloves

1 Tbsp chopped peeled fresh ginger

1 2-lb flank steak

1 Tbsp canola oil

PASTA SALAD:

1 lb fusilli

1 cup mayonnaise

3 Tbsp gochujang

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise

1 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise

1 8-inch long slice of pineapple (from 1 peeled, quartered and cored whole pineapple)

1 Tbsp canola oil

1 cup thawed frozen peas

3 scallions, thinly sliced

Kosher salt

Procedure:

  1. Make the Steak – In a blender, puree the gochujang with the mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger until smooth.  Put the flank steak in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours.  Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, make the Pasta Salad –In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the fusilli until al dente.  Drain and rinse under cold water until cool; drain well.  In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the gochujang and lime juice until smooth.  Fold in the fusilli.
  3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet.  Lightly brush the zucchini, squash and pineapple with 1 tablespoon of the oil and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until charred and tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a work surface and let cool.  Cut the vegetables and fruit into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the pasta.  Fold in the peas and scallions and season with salt.
  4. Grill the Steak – Remove the steak from the marinade, letting the excess drip off, and grill over a moderately high heat, turning once until desired degree of doneness
  5. Transfer the steak to a work surface and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice steak and serve with the pasta salad.
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Weekly Winner: Treading Ever So Cautiously Into Spring

Broccoli Grape Pasta SaladWalking outside, you’d never know that it is officially Spring here in Chicago.  The heat is still on and the snow still occasionally falls.  However regardless of what the weatherman predicts, my body and my tastes always seem ready for the change in seasons long before it actually happens.

During the winter, I almost always have soup for lunch, and although it certainly is still chilly enough to warrant a nice bowl of soup, my cravings have been for salads.  Problem is, the produce available is certainly not salad-worthy.  That’s why I love this week’s Weekly Winner.  It’s technically a salad, but hearty enough for chilly days.  And it has pasta ….. and bacon, so you know… there you go!  Need I say more?

The recipe comes from Southern Living Magazine and I did make one very important change (for me, at least).  The original recipe calls for pecans as the nut of choice.  Since I abhor them (and no, that is not too strong of a word here), I’ve changed it to pistachios because I had them on hand.  It could have been walnuts, cashews… really anything but pecans.  I know, I’d never make it as a Southern girl.

Broccoli, Grape and Pasta Salad

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 cup chopped pistachios

8 oz farfalle (bow-tie) pasta

1 pound fresh broccoli

1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup diced red onion

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups seedless red grapes, halved

8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake nuts in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
  2. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small pieces using tip of a paring knife. Peel away tough outer layer of stems, and finely chop stems.
  4. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add broccoli, hot cooked pasta, and grapes, and stir to coat. Cover and chill 3 hours. Stir bacon and nuts into salad just before serving.