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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: steak

Steak Night

How do you tell a good steak from a regular steak?

There are a few things to look for when buying a steak:

First, there is the grade. The grade speaks about the quality of the meat based on marbling and age.

The second factor is the cut. Different cuts have different qualities. Finding the right cut for what you want to cook is probably the most important part of an excellent steak.

The third factor is the diet of the steer and how it was raised.

Grade: The age of the animal and the marbling of the meat determine the grade of the meat. In the United States grades are prime, choice and select, with prime being at the top and select being the bottom. Prime grade beef makes up about 2% of all the beef produced in the United States and typically ends up exported or sold to fine restaurants. What you will normally find on the shelves at the store is choice and select. Since prime is difficult to find, your best option is to purchase a choice cut.

Marbling is an important factor in steak selection. To visually determine the marbling of a steak take a good look at the texture of the meat. If the meat is free of all fat then the cut has little or no marbling. Though, this is leaner and often more tender, it is not as flavorful. Small streaks of fat through the meat will produce a more flavorful steak. Marbling should be thin streaks of fat. Thick lines of fat means the steak contains a lot of connective tissue that will make it tough. The meat should be bright red and the fat, a creamy white, evenly distributed throughout the meat.

Cuts of steak can be broken down into three sections. Starting on the upper back and moving down to the mid-back you have the rib, the short loin and the sirloin.

The rib contains cuts, such as the Rib Roast, the Rib-eye Steak and the back ribs. This is the least tender section of the three.

The short loin produces the T-bone, Top Loin Steak, Tenderloin and the Porterhouse steaks.

The sirloin produces the Sirloin Steak and the Top Sirloin.

Strips steaks, like the New York Steak, is cut from the T-bone portion. The most tender cut of beef is the tenderloin. From this area you will also get cuts like Chateaubriand, filet mignon and tournedos. Though these cuts are tender they are less flavorful. Rib-eye or rib steaks are less tender but far more flavorful. The same holds true for the sirloin cuts.

Grass-Fed: There are lots of good reasons to choose grass-fed beef over conventionally raised beef – environmental, nutritional and concerns about the animals being treated well and eating what is natural to them. On all of these fronts, grass-fed beef beats feedlot beef hands down. However, over 95% of the beef sold in the U.S. is from feedlots. This means that beef from cattle which are entirely raised on pasture is more expensive and it also tastes a little different from the beef people in the U.S. are accustomed to. Additionally, the optimal cooking times, particularly for steaks, is a little different as well.

How to Prepare Steak for Cooking:

ALWAYS let your meat come to room temperature before doing anything to it.

Then, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and let it stand 60 minutes at room temperature before cooking.
Use 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt per side for a steak up to one inch thick. After sitting for an hour, wash the salt off the steak, dry it well with paper towels and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper. Cook immediately. TRUST ME. This method really works. I have tried any number of ways to prepare steak and always come back to this method. Any type of steak, including grass-fed steak and sirloin, prepared this way is flavorful and tender. Forget marinades and rubs – you can add the seasoning after the meat is grilled.

How to Grill Steak:

If you’re using charcoal you’ll want very hot coals. Use the 2 second rule to test them; you should be able to hold your hand a few inches over the grill for only about 2 seconds before it’s too hot. Once they are hot, move them to one side of the grill so you can have both direct and indirect heat. If you’re using a gas grill, turn all the burners to high and let it heat for at least 10-15 minutes. Oil the grill grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil.

Use tongs, extra long ones, to move your meat around, not a big fork. Puncturing your steak will only let the juices run out and cause them to be dry and tough.
Place the steaks on the hot grill to sear. Don’t move them for 2-3 minutes. If you want diagonal hatch marks, you can rotate your steak 45 degrees after a couple of minutes and then finish searing. Use the tongs again to turn the steaks and sear the other side.

If you cook the steaks at the super high heat level the entire time, the outside will be burnt by the time the center cooks. So after searing, turn the gas off on one of the burners. Move the steaks to the indirect heat side of your charcoal/gas grill to finish cooking.

When it comes to steak, you can’t follow exact times because it will vary with every cut and every grill. Temperature is the most reliable guide. Remove the steaks when they are a few degrees from your desired degree of doneness and let the steaks rest for five minutes before slicing.

Medium rare steak should be warm through the middle and most of the center of the steak should be reddish pink. The sides should be well browned, the top and bottom charred to a dark brown color. This steak should have a firm surface but soft in the middle.
Internal Temperature 125 to 135 degrees F. This is the recommended level of doneness for a good steak.

Medium Rare

Medium Rare

Medium steak should have a thick band of light pink through the middle but more brown than pink. The sides should be a rich brown color and the top and bottom charred darkly (but not black). This steak should have some play through the middle but feel firm to the touch.
Internal Temperature 140 to 150 degrees F. If you are grilling for a large group of people, this is the best level of doneness that pleases the most people.

Medium

Medium

Medium well steak should have a hint of pink in the very middle of the steak. The surface should be a dark brown with good charring on the top and bottom. This steak will be very stiff but still have a little squish in the center. Internal Temperature 155 to 165 degrees F.

Medium Well

Medium Well

Well Done steak is the most difficult to cook. This steak should NOT be burnt on the outside. While there is not the faintest hint of pink in the middle, it should be browned through, not burnt through. This steak should feel solid to the touch.
Internal Temperature 170 or higher degrees F. The secret is to do it low and slow. It’s the only way to prevent burning while fully cooking it through the middle.

Well Done

Well Done

Cooking Grass-Fed Beef Steaks:

I usually use a gas grill and heat the grill to the hottest setting. Sear the steaks for about two minutes per side. Reduce one or two burners (depending on whether you have a 2 or 3 burner grill) to medium and turn off the second or third burner. Move the steaks to the indirect heat side of the grill and close the cover. Finish the cooking over indirect heat and use a thermometer to determine how long to leave the steak on the grill. For charcoal, move the steaks to the side of the grill without the coals underneath. For a pan on the stove, just lower the heat.

Grass-fed steaks are best cooked rare or medium rare. Even if you usually like your steaks cooked longer, do give less cooking a try – or cook them in a sauce at a lower temperature. Cooking at a high temperature for a long time will definitely produce a tough steak. I find the best way to tell when a steak is done is to use a good instant-read thermometer (inserted from the side) and the best setting for grass-fed beef steaks is 125 degrees F to 130 degrees F.

Recipes for the Grill

Steak Night 3

Ribeye Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter and Mushrooms

Makes 4-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 beef Ribeye Steaks, boneless, cut 1 inch thick (about 12 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 medium Portobello mushrooms, stems removed (about 1-3/4 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt

Blue Cheese Butter:

  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons chopped rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Combine garlic, thyme and pepper. Set aside.

Place steaks on the grill and cook according to the directions above. When you move the steaks to the indirect heat, sprinkle with the garlic mixture.

Brush mushrooms with oil and after you move the steaks to indirect heat, place the mushrooms on the grill over the direct heat side. Grill about 10 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, combine Blue Cheese Butter ingredients in small bowl until well blended.

Slice the grilled mushrooms. Arrange the steaks on a serving platter. Top each steak with a tablespoon of Blue Cheese Butter and slices of mushroom.

Steak Night 4

Strip Steak with Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 12 ounce boneless beef top loin (strip) steak, cut about 3/4 inch thick
  • 1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cracked or coarsely ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 thin asparagus spears, trimmed (6 oz.)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup low salt beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

Directions

Prepare steak as described above.

Place the asparagus in a shallow dish and drizzle with the oil.

For the sauce:

In a medium skillet stir together the broth, wine, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 1/4 cup. Whisk in mustard; keep warm.

Preheat the grill. Place steak on the grill rack and cook according to directions above. Grill until steak iscooked to your desired temperature.

Place the asparagus on the grill (gas – close the cover) for the last 2 to 3 minutes or for an uncovered grill (charcoal) the last 4 to 5 minutes of grilling. Cook asparagus until crisp-tender.

Spoon sauce on a serving plate. Cut steak in half crosswise. Serve steak halves atop sauce with asparagus on top. Makes 2 servings.

steak night 5

Grilled Grass-Fed T-Bone Steaks Florentine

2-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 (3/4 to 1 inch) thick T-bone grass-fed beef steaks

Directions

Blend the first 6 ingredients in a large mixing cup and set aside. Prepare steaks according to directions above and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.

Heat barbecue and cook steaks according to directions above.

When the steaks reach the desired temperature, remove them to a large plate with a rim.

Pour the reserved sauce over the steaks and let them rest for five minutes before slicing.

Recipes for the Stovetop

Steak Night 1

Sirloin Steak with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

You may use mixed bell peppers as a substitute for the mushrooms to change theflavor ot the recipe the next time you make it.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound beef sirloin steak
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 8 ounces mixed mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 scallions
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Directions

Heat oil in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pat steak dry using paper towels. When oil is shimmering in the pan, add steak. Cook to desired degree of doneness (4 minutes per side for medium, more or less, depending on the thickness of steak is recommended). Remove steak from the skillet and keep warm on a serving platter.

Return skillet to heat. Add tomatoes, scallions and mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes (if skillet begins to look too dry, add a few tablespoons of water). Remove skillet from the heat. Stir in basil and pour mixture over the steaks.

Steak Night 2

Round Steak with Lemon, Capers and Green Onions

Cuts of beef from the round or hind leg section are less tender than the loin, sirloin or rib. They can, however, offer the best combination of texture and flavor for many steak lovers. The top round comes from the inside thigh portion of the round. Because these muscles are used less than the outer ones, they are more tender than other cuts from the round.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pound top round steak cut into 4 slices
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Chopped parsley and lemon zest for garnish

Directions

Mix flour, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder in a shallow dish. Pound steaks thin between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Dredge each steak in the  flour mixture, shaking off excess.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Brown steaks on each side 2 to 3 minutes, depending on desired degree of doneness. Remove steaks from the pan, place on a serving platter and keep warm.

Without cleaning the pan, add green onions to the pan and cook briefly. Deglaze the  pan with the broth, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a boil. Lower heat slightly and allow stock to reduce, about 5 minutes. Stir in capers and lemon juice and remove from heat.

Pour sauce over steaks and garnish with parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

 

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Best Beef Steaks For The Grill

Choosing the correct cut of meat is very important when grilling. Some of the best steaks for grilling are the premium cuts. Thickness of the steak is very important. Each cut should be between 1 inch and 1 1/2 inches thick. The strip steaks and top sirloin should be a little less expensive than the filet mignon, t-bone, porterhouse and rib eye.

Filet Mignon is a cut taken from the center of the beef tenderloin that has outstanding taste as well as texture. They’re the most tender steaks you can buy, though not the most beef flavor.

Also known as:

Tenderloin

Tournedos

Chateaubriand

Beef Medallion

New York Strip is an excellent cut for grilling. This is the steak that many grilling experts prefer.

Also know as:

Strip Loin

Shell Steak

Kansas City Strip

New York Strip Steak

Rib Eye is another classic cut that has marbling throughout the meat – making it one of the juiciest cuts as well as very tender.

Also know as:

Scotch Fillet

Delmonico Steak

Porterhouse is a very large steak that is actually a combination of two steaks: the New York strip on one side and a tender filet on the other. Many believe these to be the best of all steaks.

Also know as:

T-Bone

Short Loin

 

T-Bone is named for its distinguishing T-shaped bone. This choice cut is almost identical to a Porterhouse steak, only it doesn’t have as much of the tenderloin muscle in it. It is both a strip sirloin (with the bone) and a tender filet mignon.

Also known as:

Short Loin

Porterhouse

Club Steak

 

Top Sirloin is near the rump, so the meat’s a bit tougher than cuts from the loin or the rib. The top sirloin is a juicy cut taken from the center of the sirloin – the most tender part and is a great cut for grilling.

 

Flank steak has great beef flavor at a low price. However, it can be a little tricky to grill, because it is easy to overcook. Due to its low fat content and pronounced grain, it becomes tough and nearly inedible, if cooked past medium rare. First of all, make sure the meat is at room temperature. Placing cold meat on a hot grill will make it seize up, toughening it. Also, it will be more difficult to get the steak to cook evenly if the meat is cold in the center. Also, make sure the grill is hot – very hot. The key to keeping flank steak tender is to sear it quickly over high heat.

Rub flank steaks with a little olive oil, then salt and pepper both sides heavily. The salt will bring some of the meat’s juices to the surface and help to form the brown crust that is the hallmark of good grilling. You can also use a marinade.

Place the meat on the grill and do not move it for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes are up, turn the meat over and cook for an additional 3 minutes on the second side, again without moving the meat. Provided that your grill was hot enough, this should give you medium rare on the ends and rare in the middle. If you prefer it a little more done, increase the cooking time on each side to 4 minutes. Do not cook past medium rare, or the steak will be tough.

The last step is actually the most critical. When the meat is done, remove it from the grill and place it on a cutting board. Allow the meat to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. When the meat has rested, determine the direction of the grain – in flank steak, the fibers run along the length of the steak, and you will want to cut across the grain, in thin slices. Cutting thinly across the grain gives you short fibers in each slice, resulting in more tender meat.

Cooking Perfect Steak: on the stove, in the oven or on the grill.

Pan-Searing Steaks:

In a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Sear the steaks, moving them with tongs a little so they don’t stick to the bottom, approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side. Using this Pan-Searing technique, proceed to cook your steak to your desired doneness. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness:

Rare – 120 degrees F

Medium Rare – 125 degrees F

Medium – 130 degrees F

When the steaks are done to your liking, remove from the pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. During this time the meat continues to cook (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven) and the juices redistribute (add juices that accumulate from resting steaks to any sauce you are making).

Serve whole or slice thin and fan onto individual serving plates.

Sear-Roasting Steaks:

Preheat oven to 500°F (a very hot oven produces a juicy interior). Place a 10- to 12-inch ovenproof skillet or cast-iron skillet and place on range over high heat (the pan and the handle will be extremely hot – be careful).

Immediately place steaks in the middle of a hot, dry pan (if cooking more than one piece of meat, add the pieces carefully, so that they are not touching each other). Cook 1 to 2 minutes without moving; turn with tongs and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and put the cast iron skillet with the steaks in it into the oven. Cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, depending on thickness of steaks and degree of doneness you like. Using the Sear-Roasting technique, proceed to cook your steak to your desired doneness. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness:

Rare – 120 degrees F

Medium Rare – 125 degrees F

Medium – 130 degrees F

When the steaks are done to your liking, remove from the pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. During this time the meat continues to cook (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven) and the juices redistribute (add juices that accumulate from resting steaks to your wine sauce). Serve whole or slice thin and fan onto individual serving plates.

Grilling Steaks: 

Using dry heat from a grill is another great way to cook quality steaks. Remove steaks from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking and wipe any excess marinade (if used) off the steaks.

When you are ready to grill, preheat the grill and coat the grates with oil or non-stick kitchen spray to keep the steaks from sticking to the grill. Place steaks on a hot grill. Only turn the steak once. Let it cook on one side, then let it finish on the other side.

Grill to the desired degree of doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness.

Rare – 120 degrees F

Medium Rare – 125 degrees F

Medium – 130 degrees F

When the steaks are done to your liking, remove from the grill and let sit 15 minutes before serving (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven).

Grilled Porterhouse Steak with Fennel Sauce

A great way of presenting the meat to be served is to cut out the bone, slice both sides of the steak and then reassemble the steak on the plate in its original form.

3 to 4 servings

Fennel Sauce

  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 (1/4-inch-thick) slice of lemon
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Grilled Vegetables

  • 3 bell peppers, red, orange, yellow or a mix, cut lengthwise into 1-inch-wide strips
  • 1 large head radicchio, cut into 1/3-inch-thick wedges, keeping root ends intact
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges, keeping root ends intact
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise on a diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Fine sea salt

Steak

  • 1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) Porterhouse steak (2 inches thick), at room temperature.

Directions:

FOR SAUCE: Cook fennel and lemon in a medium saucepan of salted boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes, then drain, reserving some of the cooking water; discard lemon. Transfer fennel to the bowl of a food processor; add 5 tablespoons of the cooking water, oil, chives, mustard and generous pinch salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Transfer sauce to a serving bowl.

FOR VEGETABLES AND STEAK: Prepare a charcoal grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal or medium-high heat for gas. Grill vegetables, turning as needed, until slightly charred and tender, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a large platter and season with salt.

Grill steak, shifting meat every 30 seconds or so to avoid flare-ups and brown evenly, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn and repeat procedure on second side. Using tongs, prop steak up and grill edges until browned. Grill sides of steak again, until meat is cooked to rare (about 120° on an instant-read thermometer inserted 1 1/2 inches into steak; meat will be cooler near the bone). Total cooking time will be 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice steak; serve with vegetables and sauce.

Steak with Herb Sauce

Sauce:

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
  • 2 shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sherry wine
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons. packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon. packed fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh tarragon leaves

Steak:

  • Four (6- to 8-ounce) New York strip, porterhouse or T-bone steaks (about 1-inch thick)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Prepare Herb Sauce: Place garlic and next 7 ingredients (garlic through lemon juice) in a blender and pulse until emulsified. Add herbs a little at a time and blend until they are incorporated. Scrape down sides of blender jar as needed. The sauce should be thick and very green with the texture of pesto.

Prepare the grill and heat to medium high.

Prepare steak: Remove steak from refrigerator and let come to room temperature (about 1 hour). Pat dry with paper towels. Just before grilling, brush both sides of steaks with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place meat directly on the grill grate and cook over medium-high direct heat about 5 minutes. Turn and continue cooking 5 minutes for medium rare. Cook longer for medium. Remove from grill to a clean platter and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with Herb Sauce.

Grilled Mediterranean Steak

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb boneless beef top sirloin or rib eye, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed, chopped, fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (1 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
  • Sliced fresh tomatoes

Directions:

Heat gas or charcoal grill. Grease grill grates.

Rub both sides of each piece of beef with garlic; sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning.

Place beef on grill. Cover grill; cook over medium heat 9 to 11 minutes, turning once, until beef is medium rare.

In small bowl, mix together spinach, feta and olives. Spoon over beef. Serve with sliced tomatoes on the side.

Sirloin Steaks with Barbaresco Glaze

You defrosted the steak and it is raining! Make this dish instead.

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ cups Barbaresco wine
  • 2 shallots, peeled
  • 1 sage sprig
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • Four 1/2-pound sirloin steaks
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt

Directions:

In a 1-quart pot, bring Barbaresco wine to a boil with shallots, sage and rosemary. Reduce by half, about 15 minutes over medium heat; strain and discard the shallots, sage and rosemary.

Dredge sirloin steaks in the flour. Heat the olive oil in a 14″ skillet. Cook the steaks 2 minutes over medium-high heat. Turn and cook until browned on the other side, about 2 minutes. Add the Barbaresco reduction. Cook 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Remove the steaks to a platter; keep warm. Reduce the cooking juices until thickened to a glaze, about 4 minutes. Pour the glaze over the steaks and serve immediately.

Grilled Flank Steak with Zucchini and Tomato Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients:

Steak

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) flank steak (3/4 inch thick)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Zucchini Tortini

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2/3 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

FOR THE STEAK: Combine fennel seeds, peppercorns and salt in a mortar and pestle or small processor. Grind to a fine powder. Place steak in a baking dish; rub on all sides with ground spices and oil. Marinate, chilled, 2 hours. Meanwhile, prepare sauce.

FOR THE SAUCE: In a large saucepan combine bell pepper, tomato, onion, oil and pinch salt. Bring to a simmer. Gently simmer, covered, until vegetables are very soft, about 12 minutes. Add vinegar and cook, uncovered, 1 minute more. Process sauce with an immersion blender or in a processor, then transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.

Prepare a charcoal grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal or medium-high heat for gas. Remove marinated steak from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while you prepare zucchini.

FOR THE TORTINI: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat oven to 375  degrees F. and set rack in middle of the oven.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, garlic, parsley and a pinch salt; toss together to combine. Cook until zucchini is tender, about 3 minutes; remove from heat.

On prepared baking sheet, overlap enough of the zucchini to form 4 single-layered, 3-inch rounds. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon cheese. Repeat with remaining zucchini and cheese to form 4 (4-layered) tortini.

Grill steak 4 1/2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steak to a cutting board to rest. While steak is resting, bake tortini until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

Transfer tortini to serving plates. Slice steak. Serve with tortini and sauce.


Do you eat the same food for three to four days in a row or eat the same food at the same meal day after day? Perhaps you eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day. Or you always eat peanuts for a snack. Sound familiar?

It’s so easy to fall into an eating rut. Having the same breakfast, lunch, or dinner, day in and day out, offers convenience and comfort.  No need to think about what to eat or where to find it.There are no surprises when you pour yourself a bowl of the same cereal for breakfast day after day.

The foods people get hooked on are the usual — burger and fries, chips and soda and pepperoni pizza. Rarely do you hear of anyone stuck on broccoli for days or months.

That doesn’t mean that eating the same thing again and again has to be unhealthy. One person who made an eating rut work to his advantage was Jared Fogel of Subway fame. In less than a year, he says, he lost 235 pounds on a diet of coffee for breakfast; a 6-inch low-fat turkey sub with extra veggies, baked chips, and diet soda for lunch; and a 12-inch veggie sub for dinner.

You’re probably the best judge of whether you’re in an eating rut. However, just in case you are in a rut, here are some ideas for getting out of that rut:

  • Next time you go to the grocery store, venture out of the familiar aisles. Buy brown or wild rice instead of white, pita pockets instead of white bread, and pears instead of bananas.
  • Challenge yourself to try one new food each week.
  • Pick up a healthy dinner from a restaurant instead of having pizza delivered.
  • Have the sandwich you usually choose for lunch for breakfast instead.
  • Try slight alterations to your old standbys: accessorize your sandwich with spinach leaves instead of lettuce, stir sliced veggies into your scrambled eggs, choose a new type of cheese for your casserole.
  • Don’t say “Yuck” when friends want to try an ethnic restaurant that serves unfamiliar cuisine.
  • Visit a farmers market.
  • Take a cooking class.
  • Buy a new cookbook or get a subscription to a healthy cooking magazine.


Here are some new ways to prepare some classic foods:

Old Favorite

Linguine with Clam Sauce

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup bottled clam juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 dozen littleneck clams
  • 8 cups hot cooked linguine (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 3 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Stir in clam juice and next 5 ingredients (clam juice through clams). Cover and cook 10 minutes or until clams open.

Place pasta in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil; toss well to coat. Add clam mixture to pasta; toss again.

New Twist

Spaghettini in Clam Broth with Cherry Tomatoes

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 small leek, thinly sliced into rounds
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 cans minced clams, undrained
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 oz. spaghettini or angel hair pasta or spaghetti
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano, chopped 


Directions:

Wash the sliced leek well in a bowl of cold water, agitating it, then lift out and pat dry. Set aside.

Combine the undrained clams, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and wine in a small bowl.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside (do not rinse).

In a large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add leek, carrot and bell pepper; cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook 30 seconds; add clam mixture; gently simmer until carrot is tender, about 5 minutes.

Then add cooked pasta and parsley; toss just to combine. Top with plenty of fresh cracked pepper. Remove from heat.

Old Favorite

Restaurant Style Baked Flounder With Crabmeat Stuffing

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup light cream
  • 8 oz. crabmeat
  • 3 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 4 flounder fillets
  • 3/4 cup white wine

Directions:

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with nonstick cooking spray, add butter, then the onion and red pepper. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally about 4 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay, 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and the light cream.

Increase heat to medium high and bring to boil; cook for 1 minute or until thickened. Gently fold in crabmeat and 2 teaspoons of the parsley. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 13×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place one of the flounder fillets, skinned-side up on work surface, then spoon 1/2 cup crab mixture onto one end of fillet; roll up, creating a small bundle. Repeat using remaining fillets and crab.

Transfer bundles to baking dish, seam side down, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon parsley. Add wine to the pan; transfer to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until fish is solid white and flakes easily with a fork.


New Twist

Shrimp and Mango-Stuffed Fish Fillets

Ingredients:

4 flounder fillets

Stuffing

  • 1/2 cup finely processed crumbs, from Italian bread, crusts removed
  • 1 cup finely chopped shrimp (about 8 oz. shelled)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced mango
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon diced pimientos, drained
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced chives

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • Dash paprika

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine all the stuffing ingredients. Spoon about 1/2 cup stuffing onto each fillet; roll up. Place seam side down in baking dish.

Combine the butter and lemon juice and drizzle over the fish rolls. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.

Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Old Favorite

Classic Lasagna


Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (28 oz.) container Pomi tomatoes
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Filling:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Lasagna:

  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 16 lasagna noodles


Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9x13x2 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

Make sauce:
Heat oil in large saucepan and add garlic, basil, tomatoes, tomato paste, seasonings, salt and pepper.  Simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Make filling:
Beat eggs. Add ricotta and parmesan cheeses, salt and parsley.  Refrigerate until needed.

Cook pasta:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain.

To assemble:
Spread ½ cup sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, 1/3 ricotta mixture, 1/3 mozzarella, and 1/4 of the sauce. Repeat 2 more times. Top the last 3 noodles with sauce and cover tightly with foil.  Bake 45 min. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.


New Twist

Deconstructed Lasagna

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 lasagna noodles
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 zucchini (about 1 pound total), halved if large and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon torn fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, and the 2 teaspoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles according to package instructions; drain and separate on kitchen towels. Cut each noodle in half.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add garlic and tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until slightly broken down, about 3 minutes. Transfer tomatoes to a bowl.
  4. Add zucchini to the skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until zucchini are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to another bowl and stir in basil.
  5. Place some tomatoes in each of four pasta bowls; top with a noodle and a spoonful of ricotta, some zucchini, and more tomatoes. Repeat layering twice, then top with remaining noodles and tomatoes. Garnish with basil.

Old Favorite

BBQ Sirloin Steak

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • Dash  ground cinnamon
  • 1 boneless beef sirloin steak (1-1/2 lb.), 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick

Directions:

Heat grill to medium-high heat.
Mix barbecue sauce, marmalade and cinnamon.
Grill steak 8 to 10 min. on each side or until medium rare to medium (125 to 130 degrees), brushing with barbecue sauce mixture after turning steak. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

New Twist

Baked Steak

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 1 lemon, very thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 -2 pound, 2 inch thick sirloin steak
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

Heat oven to 400°F.

In a roasting pan, combine the mushrooms, celery, lemon slices, onion, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Season the steak with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, rub in the garlic and place steak on top of the vegetables.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.
Spoon the ketchup mixture over the top of the steak and roast 30 to 35 minutes for medium-rare (when a meat thermometer registers 125°F). Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. Serve the steak with the vegetables.


Old Favorite

Fried Green Tomatoes with Remoulade Sauce

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 large firm green tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 2 cups vegetable or peanut oil, for deep-frying
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Slice the tomatoes 1/4-inch thick. Lay them out in a shallow baking pan and sprinkle with salt. Place the tomato slices in a colander and allow time for the salt to pull the water out of the tomatoes, approximately 30 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Add pepper to the self-rising flour in a shallow bowl.  Pour buttermilk into another shallow bowl.

In a large skillet for deep-frying, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

Dip the tomatoes into buttermilk, then dredge them into flour. Deep-fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with the Remoulade Sauce.


Remoulade Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup  mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Creole mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine  mayonnaise and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Chill.

New Twist

Baked Green Tomatoes with Onion Relish

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Italian seasoned Panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 3 green tomatoes,  each cut into 4 slices
  • Sea Salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° F Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Sprinkle the tomato slices lightly with sea salt.

Combine bread crumbs, olive oil, water, garlic, and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Place tomato slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. Divide the crumb mixture evenly over each tomato slice.

Bake about 20 minutes or until brown and crispy. Serve with Onion Relish.

 Onion Relish

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onions, such as Vidalia, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, plus more to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sugar. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and most of their liquid has evaporated, 10 to 20 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until onions turn deep golden, 10 to 20 minutes more. (Add 1 or 2 tablespoons water if the onions start to stick.)

  2. Add garlic and rosemary; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup vinegar and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and more vinegar, if desired.


Before factory farming took hold in the 1960s, cattle were raised on family farms or ranches around the country. Young calves were born in the spring and spent their first months suckling milk and grazing on grass. When they were weaned, they were turned out onto pastures. The calves grew to maturity at a natural pace, reaching market weight at two to three years of age. After the animals were slaughtered, the carcasses were kept cool for a couple weeks to enhance flavor and tenderness, a traditional process called dry aging. The meat was then shipped in large cuts to meat markets. The local butcher divided it into individual cuts upon request and wrapped it in white paper and string. This meat was free of antibiotics, added hormones, feed additives, flavor enhancers, age-delaying gases and salt-water solutions. Mad cow disease and the deadliest strain of E. coli did not exist.

Today’s industrialized process brings cattle to slaughter weight in just one or two years. But it reduces the nutritional value of the meat, stresses the animals, increases the risk of bacterial contamination, pollutes the environment and exposes consumers to a long list of unwanted chemicals, hormones and antibiotics.
That hamburger in the supermarket looks fresh, but it may be two weeks old and injected with gases to keep it cherry red. Take a closer look at that “guaranteed tender and juicy” filet of beef. The juiciness may have been “enhanced” with a concoction of water, salt, preservatives and other additives.
More ominous, the beef also may be infected with food-borne bacteria, including E. coli. Some experts believe this toxic E. coli evolved in cattle that were fed high-grain diets. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pounds of beef products are recalled.

Artificial manipulation of beef begins prior to conception. Many cows are treated with synthetic hormones, such as “melengestrol acetate,” that regulate the timing of conception, allowing all the calves to be born within days of each other — a “more efficient” process. In many ranches, herd bulls have been replaced by artificial insemination, which is a fast way to improve herd genetics. The goal is consistent size, tenderness and marbling.

Hormones are just one way to speed the growth of young calves. Another strategy is to feed them an ultra high-grain diet, the standard fare in most feedlots. One reason calves are switched from grass to grain is that grain is a more concentrated form of energy. Calves fattened on grain reach maturity months ahead of grass-fattened calves. The less time cattle spend in feedlots, the greater the profit they return. Corn is the grain of choice because it’s especially high in energy. But unnatural high-grain diets have a major drawback: They make cattle sick. To prevent or reduce the symptoms caused by grain-feeding, they are given a steady dose of antibiotics in their feed — adding yet another drug to the mix.

Why does grain-feeding cause health problems?

Cattle, sheep and other grazing animals have a specialized stomach chamber called a “rumen.” The rumen is designed to convert fibrous plants such as grasses into a nutritious, easily digested meal. Replace the grass with grain and the rumen becomes too acidic. After several months, the condition can progress to “acute acidosis.” Cattle with acute acidosis develop growths and abscesses on their livers, stop eating, sicken and even die.
Finding an alternative to industrial beef takes effort. The cattle industry is highly consolidated, with the largest 25 feedlot companies now supplying 40 percent of all U.S. beef. The packing industry is even more concentrated. The top four beef packers (IBP/Tyson, Excel/Cargill, Swift/ConAgra and U.S. Premium/National Beef) harvest more than 80 percent of the meat.

What can you do if you want to keep beef in your diet?

Opt for organic. The use of growth-promoting hormones and antibiotics is not allowed in certified organic beef production. Nor is feed made from animal by products, that includes meat, blood and bone meal from chickens, pigs and ruminants. 

Go for the grass. Choose beef from cattle that were 100 percent “grass-fed”. ” These animals are raised on their natural diet of grass from birth to market, and are not routinely given antibiotics and hormones. Look for a comprehensive grass-fed label from the American Grassfed Association.

Look at labels. Check for phrases like “Naturally Raised,” “No Hormones Added,” “Raised Without Antibiotics” and “Never Fed Animal Byproducts.” 

Comb your community. Ask your local producers how they raise their beef.  You can find producers near you at farmers markets and on the Web.

Try www.eatwild.com or www.localharvest.com.  

I buy my beef from  these two farms: http://www.grasslandbeef.com/Page.boktemplate=about and http://www.goodearthfarms.com/.

 Many mainstream supermarkets now carry organic, grass-fed beef.

Source: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/grass-fed-meat-zm0z12jjzkon.aspx

Does this mean that beef is totally bad for you?

No, not at all. Beef is a great source of protein, zinc, selenium, iron and B vitamins. The key to enjoying beef and not increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease is to choose grass-fed leaner cuts of beef, such as round steaks and sirloin steaks. Serving size is equally important. One serving size of beef is only three to four ounces, or about the size of a typical deck of playing cards. You might be scratching your head right now, mentally comparing that juicy 10-ounce T-bone steak to a little three ounce piece of steak. While the round steak is a healthier choice, it doesn’t seem like a tasty option, does it?

Well, meat lovers, while your taste buds may not thank you for giving up the T-bone, your heart surely will. Actually, enjoying low-fat beef isn’t so tough (no pun intended) and here are a few healthy recipes with Italian seasonings for making three-four ounces of low-fat beef really seem like a “tasty dish”.  

The fat in grass fed beef has a much different consistency than the fat in commercial, grain fed beef. Because of that, grass fed steaks must be grilled at a lower temperature, more slowly than you would steaks from grain fed beef. Set the grill to medium, and your steaks will be seared on the outside, without risking drying them out and toughening them up on the inside. You will still see the dark grill marks that make the presentation of a grilled steak so inviting. Grilling at the lower temperature, however, you need to know that it will take a little bit longer to get the steaks to the desired doneness, but watch them closely, you don’t want to overcook them.

Sirloin Steak with Bell Peppers

Good served over egg noodles.

4 servings

  • 1 pound sirloin steak, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed, roughly chopped or coarsely ground in a spice mill
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 ½ cups reduced-sodium beef broth, divided
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 4 bell peppers vary the colors, cut into 1-inch squares
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Wondra all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Rub steak with fennel seed and 1/2 teaspoon salt, turning to coat on all sides. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steak in a single layer and cook, turning once, until browned on the outside and still pink in the middle, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. Add garlic to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup broth and wine, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add bell peppers, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the peppers are tender-crisp, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Whisk the remaining broth and flour in a small bowl. Add to the pepper mixture, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Return the steak to the pan. Adjust heat to maintain a slow simmer and cook, turning the meat once, about 2 minutes for medium-rare.

   

Steaks with Caramelized Onions & Gorgonzola

Serve with garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli.

4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 large onions, sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound beef tenderloin, (filet mignon) or sirloin steak, 1-1 1/4 inches thick, trimmed and cut into 4 (4 oz.each) steaks
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola, or blue cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions and brown sugar and cook, stirring often, until the onions are very tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add broth, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the liquid has almost evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer the onions to a bowl; cover to keep warm. Clean and dry the pan.
  2. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper on both sides of each steak. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn them over and top with cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the steaks are cooked to desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare. Serve the steaks with the caramelized onions.

Grilled Filet Mignon with Vegetable Kebabs

This low-fat cut is actually perfect weekday fare: it cooks up fast, stays juicy and carries other flavors perfectly. The kebabs are a mix of lemon, herbs and fresh vegetables. Serve with rice.

4 servings

  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, stemmed
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 pound filet mignon steak, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon steak seasoning, such as Mrs. Dash
  1. Preheat grill to high and reduce heat to medium just before placing meat on the grill.
  2. Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade in a small bowl. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini and onion to the remaining marinade; toss well to coat. Thread the vegetables on to eight 10-inch skewers. Drizzle the vegetables and steak with the reserved marinade. Sprinkle steak seasoning on meat.
  3. Grill the steak 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium. Grill the vegetable kebabs, turning frequently, until tender and lightly charred, 8 to 12 minutes total. Remove the vegetables from the skewers and serve with the steak.

                                                                                                                                         

Italian Beef Skillet

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 pound beef round steak
  • 2  cups  sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 1  cup  chopped green pepper
  • 1/2  cup  chopped celery
  • 2  cloves  garlic, minced
  • 1  14-1/2 ounce can low sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried basil, crushed or 1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil
  • 1/4  teaspoon  dried oregano, crushed or 1-1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh oregano
  • 1/8  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 2  tablespoons  grated Parmesan cheese
  • Hot cooked pasta (optional)

Italian-Style Grilled Steak

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces steak, 1 teaspoon oil)

Grilled mushrooms are a good addition.

  • 1 (1-pound) lean beef rib-eye steak, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Cut beef across grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Combine beef, rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, and garlic in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Marinate beef in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.
Prepare grill. Just before adding meat, reduce heat to medium.
Remove beef from bag, discarding marinade. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Place beef on an oiled grill rack.  Cook 1 minute on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Drizzle oil over beef.

Steak Pizzaiola

This is good with a saute of peppers and onions on the side.

4 Servings

  • 1 (1 pound) beef top sirloin steak 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup shredded Sargento Italian 2% reduced fat cheese blend
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil

Directions:

Brush steaks with olive oil and sprinkle steaks on both sides with salt, pepper and oregano.

Grill over medium heat for 2-4 minutes on each side or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a meat thermometer should read 145°; medium, 160°; well-done, 170°).

Meanwhile, heat sauce in a small saucepan. Spoon over steaks; sprinkle with cheese and basil. 


           Grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook, if you do it right!

By choosing foods that are low in fat, high in nutrients and full of flavor you can get great meals that are also healthy. Use marinades, not only to add extra flavor, but also to reduce the formation of cancer causing substances on foods. A marinade containing olive oil and/or citrus juices can reduce the formation of these chemicals by as much as 99% and, since, marinades tenderize meats, you will have a much better meal.

There has been a lot of talk about grilling and cancer. While the risk is real and you really need to keep this in mind, there are some simple things you can do to greatly reduce the cancer risk.  Two primary substances, Heterocyclic Amines (HCA) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) are chemicals that form on  food, primarily meats, when they come  in contact with intense heat and flame. They are known cancer causing agents, so you need to reduce their formation, as much as you can. HCAs and PAHs are formed mostly from fat. Either by fat being heated to extreme temperatures or by the smoke created by fat burning. For the most part, this applies to meat fats and not just the grease and fat from what you are cooking, but from the build up on the bottom of your grill.

Scientists at the Food Safety Consortium project at Kansas State University have discovered that herbs of the Lamiaceae family (basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage) used in marinades, reduced HCA formation dramatically.   These herbal antioxidants reduce the formation of chemicals when meat is grilled and, also happen to be,  herbs traditionally used in Italian cooking.


To reduce the risks follow these basic tips:

  • Keep your grill clean. A clean grill not only cooks better it is safer in every way.
  • Trim excess fats from foods. These fats are the troublemaker, so keep it to a minimum.
  • Use marinades based on olive oil and/or citrus juices.
  • Avoid flare-ups. Flare-ups burn foods and this increases HCA formation.
  • Don’t overcook foods. The charred bits on foods are the largest sources of PAHs and HCAs, so if you have charred sections of meat cut them off.
  • Use herbs like basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage to add flavor and reduce HCA formation in foods.
  • Grill extra vegetables to accompany meats. They do not form HCAs like meats do, plus the antioxidants they contain may help to lessen some of the damage HCAs and other cooking toxins cause in your body.

 Appetizers

Clams Oreganato on the Grill

Serves 4 as an appetizer

  • 1 cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped very fine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 12 cherrystone or littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 3-4 tablespoons low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat grill and coat the rack with vegetable oil.  Dip each closed clam in water (this will add steam) and place on the grill so that none of the clams are overlapping. Close cover and grill for approximately 4-5 minutes or until clam shells open. Check often for clams that have popped open. Remove clams  with tongs to a platter as soon as they open their shells.

In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, oregano, crushed red pepper and salt. Add the olive oil and stir until well combined. Add enough of the chicken stock to moisten the bread crumbs..

Top the bottom half of the clams with the bread crumb mixture, dividing mixture evenly on top of each clam, and place back on the grill. Close grill cover and for about 1 minute or until just heated through. Serve with lemon wedges. 

Origins of Bruschetta

Bruschetta comes to us from Central Italy where it’s chiefly eaten as an appetizer or snack. The most basic bruschetta begins with tomatoes, good quality olive oil, garlic, vinegar, and onions.  Depending on the combinations of ingredients you use, you can take this dish, from such a basic foundation, to one that is a uniquely- flavored creation.

Grilled Vegetable Bruschetta

1 small eggplant (1/2 – 3/4 pound)
1 small zucchini summer squash
1 large meaty tomato (about 1/2 pound)
1 red bell pepper
1 Vidalia onion, peeled
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, cut in half
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
6-1″ thick slices fresh Italian bread
1 cup (about 4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
Balsamic vinegar

Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut the squash into long diagonal 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut the  onion and tomato into crosswise 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut the pepper into quarters.  Season vegetables with kosher salt, pepper and brush with olive oil. Brush bread slices with a little oil.
Put all the vegetables on the grill, except the tomato. Grill on medium high heat until cooked through and grill marks are formed, about 10 minutes. Grill the tomato slices about 2 minutes.
Grill one side of bread until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Remove bread and vegetables from grill.  While the bread is hot, rub the toasted side of each piece with garlic .
Chop vegetables into very small dice and add basil. Serve chopped vegetables on bread slices, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Main Dishes

Spinach Pesto

  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Combine the spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse. With the machine running, gradually add the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy.  Stir in the Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste.  This pesto freezes well if you have it leftover.

Grilled Boneless Chicken Breasts

Prepare grill and oil grates.
Brush 4 boneless chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  

Grill 5 minutes each side..  Top with a tablespoon or two of Spinach Pesto.
Spinach Pesto is also goes well with grilled scallops.

Grilled Fennel-Garlic Pork Chops

Fennel seed and pork are a fairly typical Italian combination.

  • 1 tablespoons whole fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons  olive oil
  • 4 (¾-inch-thick) loin bone-in pork chops
  • Vegetable oil for brushing grill rack

Grind the fennel seeds and crushed red pepper flakes in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (or, if you don’t have either of those, in a plastic bag with a rolling pin). Combine them in a  bowl with the garlic, salt and enough of the olive oil to make a paste.

Pat the chops dry with paper towels, then spread the fennel-garlic paste over both sides of the chops. Let sit for 30 minutes (or up to a few hours, if you put them in the refrigerator;  bring back to room temperature before cooking).

Grill the chops for 1-2 minutes per side over a hot fire, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another 5-10 minutes, turning once or twice, until the internal temperature reaches at least 137 F. Let sit for a few minutes. Serve with a green salad.   4 servings

Grilled Bone-in Chicken Breasts and Legs with Tomato Olive BBQ Sauce

Tomato Olive Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons steak sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Sambuca, (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, reduce heat, cover, sweat in the oil for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the garlic,  stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Pour in the red wine and balsamic vinegar, tomato puree, tomato paste, olives, honey, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, Sambuca, and salt and pepper.
  • Raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool down to room temperature.

Chicken Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts and 4 chicken legs with thighs attached

Instructions:

  • Prepare grill for medium indirect grilling.
  • Brush each piece of chicken with barbecue sauce.
  • Grill indirectly until juices run clear, about 15 to 20 minutes.  The chicken needs to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Remove the chicken from the grill, cover and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
  • Serve with remaining BBQ sauce for dipping.

Swordfish Kabobs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 pounds swordfish steaks, cut into 1-inch pieces (try to get 12 evenly cut cubes.)
4 medium red onions, peeled and quartered
12 (1-inch) pieces red bell pepper
12 cherry tomatoes
Vegetable oil

Combine first 10 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add swordfish fish cubes. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once.
Prepare grill and oil grates. Remove fish from bag; discard marinade. Thread swordfish cubes, onions, and bell pepper alternately onto each of 4 (10-inch) skewers. Thread cherry tomatoes on a fifth skewer and set aside.
Place swordfish kabobs on grill and grill 8 minutes or until desired degree of doneness, turning once. After 4 minutes, place the tomatoes on the grill and rotate after two minutes. Serve tomatoes with fish kabobs and garnish with lemon slices. Serve with rice.
Serves 4.


Florentine Steak

Bistecca alla Fiorentina is traditionally made using T-bone or Porterhouse steaks, but you could make it with rib eyes, strip loins, sirloin, or even fillet steak.
As long as the meat is of a very high quality (organic, grassfed is best), it will taste delicious, even if it’s not entirely authentic!  It is healthy only if you keep portions small – about 4 oz. per person.
The marinating time is quite long, so make sure you start this dish at least a day before you want to eat it.


  • 2 10 oz. T-bone steaks
  • 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar or lemon
  • High quality extra virgin olive oil


Put the steak in a shallow dish. Mix together the olive oil, rosemary, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the steak, cover  and let rest in the refrigerator to marinate for 24 to 48 hours.
Heat a grill until it is very hot. Grill the meat to taste, turning to cook the steak evenly on both sides. Traditional Bistecca alla Fiorentina is served rare to medium-rare; test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer.  Cook to an internal temperature of 130 to 135°F for medium-rare or an internal temperature of 120 to 125°F for rare.

Remove steaks from grill, and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Slice steak across grain, then place slices on heated dinner plates.   Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar or lemon juice and olive oil and shave some parmesan cheese over the top. Season to taste and serve. Good with an Arugula Salad.
Serves 4 or more

Dessert

Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone Cheese

  • 4 firm, ripe peaches, pitted and halved
  • olive oil for brushing the cut sides of the peaches
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 8 teaspoons fig jam
  • Mint leaves

Brush peaches lightly with olive oil. Place the peaches on a greased grill rack, cut side down, and do not move the peaches in order to get grill marks on them. It takes about 2 to 3 minutes per side to get those grill marks.  Continue grilling the peaches until slightly softened and heated through, about 5 to 6 minutes total. Turn the peaches over and warm a minute or two.

Mix together the mascarpone cheese, Amaretto and honey.
To serve peaches, place a teaspoon of fig jam in the hollow where the pit had been and top each with a tablespoon of the mascarpone mixture.  Decorate with mint leaves.



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