Thursday, January 17, 2008

Side dish or dessert... you choose!

The more I think about tonight's side dish, Green Grapes with Feta Cheese and Honey, I have a feeling it might make another appearance soon as a dessert instead! While we thought it was still appropriate as a side, I really think this sweet, yet savory recipe could go either way.

Chunky pieces of salty feta cheese are sweetened up by a drizzle of sticky orange-blossom honey, while the savory flavor is back up with a little extra-virgin olive oil and fresh ground black pepper. Juicy green grapes and thick slices of a ripe, but firm Anjou pear. A good way to check if the pear is ripe is to gently press near the stem - if it gives slightly, you are good to go. Don't use the round bulbous end to check as if that is soft, the pear is probably over-ripe already. The plump grapes we found at our market were quite small so we left them whole - if yours are much bigger, I would suggest halving them shortly before serving. To make the flavor pop once the grapes, pears and feta are combined, thinly sliced basil leaves are scattered among the fruit adding a burst of freshness.

I knew I was going to have a bunch of cabbage left over from those beefy buns we made last night, so while I was menu planning last weekend, I kept that in mind and pulled out a recipe for Asian Steak Salad with Cucumber and Napa Cabbage to make for tonight's dinner.

Fresh lime juice, rice vinegar, canola oil, toasted sesame oil, crushed red pepper and a smashed garlic clove are whisked together - half of this tangy mixture is used for a dressing later on, while the other half is combined with soy sauce to tenderize a hunk of flank steak. If you have time to prepare this part before hand, let the steak marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours; if not, ten minutes or so at room temperature will be good enough.

While the steak is cooking, half a head of Napa cabbage is shredded and combined with crisp and cool cucumber slices. When the steak is done, be sure to give it at least a 5 to 10 minute rest when it is done so the juices don't gush out when you slice it. The thinly sliced strips of medium-rare steak are served on the bed of dressed vegetables and topped with a scattering of crunchy chopped peanuts. Light and clean, yet quite filling, Jeff asked that we make sure to file this recipe away to make again, except to grill the steak instead of broiling to keep the kitchen cool on a warm summer night.


  1. Joe you know what I like about your food, the flavours always seem to be clean and not muddled with too many things that can detract from the natural flavour of the ingredients you are working with.

  2. humm, I love the Green Grapes with Feta and pears dish, looks delicious! And I would certainly be happy to have that as dessert too!!

  3. Cynthia - Thank you!

    Ana -That was my thought as well... I'm waiting for a good sale on grapes again and we'll try it!