Those days feel like a lifetime ago. Well-they are. We no longer live by the ocean. Kevin, once a small child, is now practically an adult and obviously has his own life, which doesn't include spending every second of his summer with his Mom. This summer, Kevin took off to a city 3 hours away to work and came home only every few weeks. To help us make it through the teacher's dispute here in BC, I found another job and spent my days working. John and I only had enough time to get away to Calgary for a short trip, and then day trips here and there on our motorcycle. We had a serious test of being empty nesters, and with that comes a huge change in the kitchen-mostly that we don't eat nearly as much as our almost adult son.
Cooking became a dance of what was in the fridge or could be made in ridiculously small amounts. The first few weeks, I had so much produce go bad that I stopped shopping weekly and only bought things if we really needed them. By the end of summer, I had cooking for only the two of us nailed, and then Kevin came home and it all changed up again.
Throughout those hot summer days, we ate a lot of salad. It was a perfect meal for two, and I could customize them to our individual tastes. This one became my hands down favourite; tender steak, noodles, a spicy peanut dressing, a tasty drizzle. At first glance there seems to be a lot of components and work, but the reality is it's very easy to put together. I still crave it now, even. I daresay that once you try it, you'll crave it too.
Steak and marinade:
1 1/2 lb sirloin steak
1/3 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
1/3 cup tomato paste
4 tbsp ginger, peeled and minced
4 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sambal oelek (chili paste)
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp sambal oelek
3 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
6 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 cups soba noodles or other thin Asian noodle
2 carrots, shredded
1 cup sugar snap peas, sliced thinly
4 tbsp chopped cashews
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Start with the marinade by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and pouring over the steak in a glass dish. Cover and chill overnight. The marinade is very thick but don't worry.
When you are ready to start cooking, mix the dressing ingredients together in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into a mason jar, put a lid on it and place in the fridge.
Grill the steak until medium rare. I don't have a grill so I cooked it under the broiler in my oven. Since the marinade is so thick it spits and makes a bit of a mess, and it isn't really a good idea to cook it in a fry pan on the stove. I found that the thick marinade then just burns on the pan.
Once the steak is cooked, remove from the grill or broiler and allow to cool to room temperature. When it has rested for about 10 minutes, slice thinly.
Just before serving, assemble the salads. Toss the greens and mint with some of the dressing until lightly coated and mound on plates. Top with about 1/4 cup of noodles, and then some of the steak, grated carrots, avocado, and sliced sugar snap peas. Lastly, sprinkle with cashews.
Whisk up the drizzle ingredients in a small bowl and spoon over top of the salads. You may not need it all, but put it on the table in case people want to add their own.
Adapted from Whitewater Cooks with Friends