Watermelon Mint Salad and How to Cook the Perfect Steak in the Oven

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Long title, I know. But really, this recipe is two recipes in one. You could easily make the watermelon salad by itself if you’re just looking for a nice, refreshing side. Or you could also make just the steak. Or, best of all, you could just make both.

Just like the restaurant in Denver where I first had it on a weekend trip with Mr. LF and our friends K and M a month ago. After two days of hiking in the wonderful Colorado mountains, we’d decided it was time to explore the city we were actually staying in. Our first stop was The Great Divide brewery, which was so great  (see what I did there?)that we didn’t actually end up exploring very far. But it was totally worth a lovely afternoon sampling all their beers and doing a fun tour around the brewery.

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Side note: While we were there, small world that it is, we actually ended up seeing one of M’s friends that she’d met while studying abroad! Isn’t that crazy? I love those serendipitous moments. But anywho, with the beer running through my system, both literally and figuratively, I became curious about this group of locals waiting in line with me for the restroom. I feel like typically only tourists end up going to these sorts of things, so I decided to chat them up. I asked their opinions on this brewery versus others, and they said Great Divide was a good one and also suggested a German-style brewery that Mr. LF and I spent our last day at. They also volunteered that if we were looking for a great place to eat that was close by, we should check out Steuben’s. Since yelp hadn’t actually been steering us in the right direction, we decided to give it a try.

Beer tends to fill me up, so I wasn’t actually that hungry when we got there. Which meant that I thought I’d take the opportunity to order a salad off the menu, something I rarely do. When the waiter came around, I ordered the watermelon mint salad, and he asked whether I wanted grilled chicken or flank steak on top. Although I typically don’t give in to these up-sells, the drunk munchies had me giving an enthusiastic, “YES steak please!”

Thus, this salad was born. It could definitely have been the beer talking, but it was the best salad I’d had in a long time. I knew that I would recreate it as soon as I got home, and here it is! Feel free to use any protein you want–I’ve made this with beef sirloin and ribeye and with the backstrap of a nilgai.. And, since it’s summer, feel especially free to put it on the grill instead of cooking it in the oven! =) Happy 4th!

Watermelon Mint Salad with Grilled Steak
Serves 2

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Ingredients:

2 cups seedless watermelon, diced
1 medium cucumber, diced
2 handfuls spinach or other leafy green (I’ve used arugula before with great results)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup mint leaves (about 15 leaves) or more, to taste
Juice of 1 lime
Optional: goat feta cheese
1 lb grass-fed steak of choice
1 tbsp coconut oil or bacon grease, melted

Directions:

For the salad
1. In a large bowl, mix together the watermelon, cucumber, and spinach.
IMG_75682. Mince your mint leaves.

3. Add the minced leaves to a small bowl, and add in the honey, olive oil, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
IMG_75744. Whisk together until well blended, and pour the dressing in the large bowl with the veggies. Mix until well-coated. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate while you make the steak.

For the steak:
5. Open the package of steak, and drain any juices. Place the steak on a cutting board, and use a few paper towels to blot the steak dry. Let the steak come to room temperature if it isn’t already.
IMG_75826. Turn on your oven’s broiler to high, and place an oven rack about 6-8 inches below the broiler. Put a cast iron grill pan (or regular skillet) on the rack to heat it up with the oven.
7.  Using a pastry brush, brush the coconut oil or bacon grease onto both sides of the steak. Generously season each side with the salt and pepper.
IMG_75838. Turn a burner on your stove to medium high. Make sure that your house is well-ventilated, as the pan and the steak are going to produce a lot of smoke (I put a fan in my window that pulls the smoke outside)!
9. Using an oven mitt, carefully take the cast iron pan out of the oven, and place it on the burner you turned on earlier. I like to put a little bit more of the bacon grease into the pan at this point to help keep it from sticking.
IMG_758510. Use tongs to place the steaks onto the hot grill pan. It will sizzle and smoke! DO NOT TOUCH IT. Cook the steak for 30 seconds. Then, flip it over and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
IMG_758711. Use your oven mitt to put the cast iron pan with the steak back into the oven. Turn off your stove burner, and cook the steak for 2 minutes in the oven. After two minutes, open the oven, and use your tongs to flip the steaks one more time. Cook for an additional 2 minutes for a medium rare to medium steak. If you’d like it closer to being well-done, leave for another minute.
IMG_759012. Take the pan and steaks out of the oven, and remove the steaks to a cutting board. Tent loosely with foil to allow them to rest (this is where the juices redistribute so you don’t get a dry steak) for about 5 minutes.

13. While the steak is resting, take your salad out of the fridge, and plate onto two large bowls. If you eat cheese, sprinkle some of the feta over it.
14. After 5 minutes, slice your steak against the grain, and then fan the pieces on top of your salad!
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Watermelon Mint Salad and How to Cook the Perfect Steak in the Oven
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 cups seedless watermelon, diced
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 2 handfuls spinach or other leafy green (I've used arugula before with great results)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup mint leaves (about 15 leaves) or more, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Optional: goat feta cheese
  • 1 lb grass-fed steak of choice
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or bacon grease, melted
Directions
  1. For the salad
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the watermelon, cucumber, and spinach.
  3. Mince your mint leaves.
  4. Add the minced leaves to a small bowl, and add in the honey, olive oil, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together until well blended.
  5. Pour the dressing in the large bowl with the veggies, and mix until well-coated. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate while you make the steak.
  6. For the steak:
  7. Open the package of steak, and drain any juices. Place the steak on a cutting board, and use a few paper towels to blot the steak dry. Let the steak come to room temperature if it isn't already.
  8. Turn on your oven's broiler to high, and place an oven rack about 6-8 inches below the broiler. Put a cast iron grill pan (or regular skillet) on the rack to heat it up with the oven.
  9. Using a pastry brush, brush the coconut oil or bacon grease onto both sides of the steak. Generously season each side with the salt and pepper.
  10. Turn a burner on your stove to medium high. Make sure that your house is well-ventilated, as the pan and the steak are going to produce a lot of smoke (I put a fan in my window that pulls the smoke outside)!
  11. Using an oven mitt, carefully take the cast iron pan out of the oven, and place it on the burner you turned on earlier. I like to put a little bit more of the bacon grease into the pan at this point to help keep it from sticking.
  12. Use tongs to place the steaks onto the hot grill pan. It will sizzle and smoke! DO NOT TOUCH IT. Cook the steak for 30 seconds. Then, flip it over and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  13. Use your oven mitt to put the cast iron pan with the steak back into the oven. Turn off your stove burner, and cook the steak for 2 minutes in the oven. After two minutes, open the oven, and use your tongs to flip the steaks one more time. Cook for an additional 2 minutes for a medium rare to medium steak. If you'd like it closer to being well-done, leave for another minute.
  14. Take the pan and steaks out of the oven, and remove the steaks to a cutting board. Tent loosely with foil to allow them to rest (this is where the juices redistribute so you don't get a dry steak) for about 5 minutes.
  15. While the steak is resting, take your salad out of the fridge, and plate onto two large bowls. If you eat cheese, sprinkle some of the feta over it.
  16. After 5 minutes, slice your steak against the grain, and then fan the pieces on top of your salad!

Spring Potato Salad

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I don’t remember ever paying much attention to the seasons when it comes to food. It’s both a privilege and a curse of living in America. In fact, it wasn’t really until I studied abroad in Argentina that I was really confronted with the we-don’t-have-it-if-it’s-not-in-season nature of finding and cooking food. But, even then, Argentina, and all travels before that, preceded the deep interest I now have in cooking and eating healthy, so it was more of a nuisance than anything else.  All I wanted was some fresh veggies to balance out the extreme amounts of delicious beef I was eating, but alas.

Now, however, with farmer’s markets, with the tons of food blogs I now follow, with my realization that “in season” actually means good, I’m  paying attention. I’m certainly not at the point where I will only cook vegetables that are in season–that seems like a waste of a supermarket to me– but I have definitely found that my tastes are much more in tune with the flavors and foods of fall, say, or now, of spring.

So when I saw this recipe for a new potato and arugula salad, I was sold. If I hadn’t seen this recipe, one visit to the farmer’s market alone could’ve told me that arugula is in season.  And doesn’t it remind you of spring?  Plus, not being a fan of traditional potato salad, I was pleased to find one that wasn’t so heavy on the mayo and had the tartness of Greek yogurt. I didn’t modify the recipe much, but I did change the steps to make it a one-bowl deal. I figured with the nice weather we’ve been having, you might want to make it for the BBQ I’m sure you’re having this weekend. 😉

Spring Potato Salad
Recipe courtesy of TheKitchn
Serves 6 as a side, 4 if you make it a meal

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs new potatoes (I got a variety of purple, red, and white), scrubbed well
1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive-oil mayonnaise
2 large shallots, sliced thin
1 large bunch of arugula (I used baby)
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1 tsp garlic powder
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Optional: diced ham or diced hard-boiled eggs to give it a protein boost and make it a meal

Directions:

1. Add your potatoes to a large pot, and fill the pot until the potatoes are covered with about 2 inches of water. Add at least 1 tbsp of salt to the water, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes and either return to the pot, or set the strainer over the pot so they continue to drain.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together the Greek yogurt and mayonnaise in a large bowl with a lid.  Add the garlic powder, and add black pepper to taste.
IMG_71133. Set up a station where you have the hot potatoes at the beginning, your cutting board in the middle, and the bowl with the yogurt/mayo mix at the end, like this:
IMG_71144. Take one potato at a time from the pot, and cut it into quarters.  Add the quarters to the yogurt bowl, and repeat this process until you’re out of potatoes.

5. Toss the potatoes with the yogurt mixture until well coated.
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6. Add in the arugula, dill, and shallots, and mix to coat. Season to taste with salt and more pepper. Serve warm (my preferred method) or refrigerate for at least an hour and serve cold.
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7. OPTIONAL: if you would like to eat this as a complete meal, I would recommend adding some diced deli ham or a diced hard-boiled egg. I did the ham method, and it was delicious!

Spring Potato Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sides
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs new potatoes (I got a variety of purple, red, and white), scrubbed well
  • ½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup olive-oil mayonnaise
  • 2 large shallots, sliced thin
  • 1 large bunch of arugula (I used baby)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • Optional: diced ham or diced hard-boiled eggs to give it a protein boost and make it a meal
Directions
  1. Add your potatoes to a large pot, and fill the pot until the potatoes are covered with about 2 inches of water. Add at least 1 tbsp of salt to the water, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes and either return to the pot, or set the strainer over the pot so they continue to drain.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together the Greek yogurt and mayonnaise in a large bowl with a lid. Add the garlic powder, and add black pepper to taste.
  3. Set up a station where you have the hot potatoes at the beginning, your cutting board in the middle, and the bowl with the yogurt/mayo mix at the end, like this:
  4. Take one potato at a time from the pot, and cut it into quarters. Add the quarters to the yogurt bowl, and repeat this process until you're out of potatoes.
  5. Toss the potatoes with the yogurt mixture until well coated.
  6. Add in the arugula, dill, and shallots, and mix to coat. Season to taste with salt and more pepper. Serve warm (my preferred method) or refrigerate for at least an hour and serve cold.
  7. OPTIONAL: if you would like to eat this as a complete meal, I would recommend adding some diced deli ham or a diced hard-boiled egg. I did the ham method, and it was delicious!