Updated: Jan 11
Sometimes you need a fun story to get into a recipe. Sometimes you just need dinner on the table- FAST! When you've got too many hangry tummies and not enough time, just pull out these tips to focus your thinking and maximize the applause from your family!
#1: Protein- Season(ing) of Love
Usually the star of the dish, proteins like steak or chicken need time to absorb salt (and flavor!). A super pro move is to salt your protein as soon as you get home from the store, even if you're not cooking it for a day or two. The further ahead you salt your protein, the more the salt can get to the center of your food instead of all the yum sitting on top. Didn't do that? Cut that big skirt steak or couple of chicken breasts into large, evenly sized chunks, then season. You'll get more surface area, which equals more crusty, caramelized bits AND your food cooks through faster!
Bonus Pro Tip- having a delicious marinade to let your meat rest in after cooking will infuse your meat with flavor during that built-in wait time.
#2: Veggies- Choose the soft side
While potatoes may be America's favorite vegetable, now is not the time for dense, slow-cook-loving spuds. Instead, reach for veggies that are softer: zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, or mushrooms. These cook through quickly, especially when cut into 1" cubes. The super pro move here is to season your veggies with salt and pepper once cut, then toss them in oil just before cooking in a searing hot pan. Letting the salt sit on your veggies draws out some of the water, which concentrates the flavors and decreases cooking time!
#3: Starch- A little nutty...
Here in Louisiana, we love, love, love our white rice. Rice has its place, right along side a pot of slow-cooked red beans or etouffee. But in this quick-cook meal? Not tonight, empty carbs. Instead, get adventurous with your grains. Most grocery stores (I'm looking at you, Wal-Mart) stock a surprising selection of quick cook farro, barley, or quinoa. These grains are super nutty, have a little bite to them when cooked, and are packed with fill-a-tummy goodness. Because they have much less starch than rice, you'll also not have to worry about mushy or sticky texture. The super pro move here is to get your stock or water on the stove first so you can boil, drain, and set aside while you focus on the rest of the meal.
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pan-Seared Veggies and Farro
1 1/2 lb Skirt Steak
1 t white pepper
2 t ground coriander
3/4 cup Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 T honey
2 yellow squash
1 pint mushrooms
1/2 t oregano
Juice and chopped zest of one lemon
3 cups chicken stock or water
1 cup 10 minute farro (regular farro only takes 30 minutes to cook through, so it's not a huge deal if you can't find the 10-minute version)
Flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1. Get your stock or water on for the farro, then cook according to package directions. Stir in the lemon zest and half the lemon juice. Combine the Dijon, mustard, and honey in a small baking dish. Set aside.
2. While the farro cooks, cut steak into four even portions, cutting with the grain. Season generously with salt, then rub with white pepper and coriander.
3. Cut your veggies into 1" chunks. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and half of the lemon juice. Set aside.
4. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Your pan should just start to smoke slightly. Add just enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Sear on each side for 2-3 minutes, depending on thickness and preferred doneness. Transfer immediately to Dijon marinade.
5. Toss the veggies with a couple of tablespoons of oil, add to crazy-hot pan, and stir every minute or so, just until done, about 5 minutes. Add farro to pan, drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the Dijon marinade, toss, and divide between 4 plates.
6. Slice steak against the grain, divide between the 4 plates, and garnish with parsley and a little more of the marinade.