Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What's Cooking Wednesday: Summertime and the Living is Easy...

Please go to The Fairy Blogmother for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

We're finally having gorgeous weather in Michigan - 85 degree days, few clouds in the sky, and the humidity hasn't really kicked in yet.


It's also that time of year, when each night Ann Arbor turns into one giant block party on the Ingalls Mall. It's the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and for those of us on a tight budget, it's Top of the Park time. Top of the Park deserves its own post - it's a great combination of local acts and some from farther reaches and each night, two bands and a movie or other later night entertainment are all provided for FREE. Yeah, take THAT, Michigan economy!

Since most TOP programs start at 7, the Eatwrite family wants to race through dinner and get down to where the action is. And that means dinner has to be quick.

These are two meals we've had this week that we've loved, and have been easy as the proverbial pie. They were also delicious, mostly due to the fact that the Ann Arbor Farmers market is starting to burst with local foods.

Both nights used many of the same ingredients and each dinner was prepared in under 30 minutes. No kidding. (Um, it does help that I'm a fast one with the chopping board). So... here they are:

Pasta with Chicken, Asparagus, Fresh Tomatoes and Basil


Leftover cooked chicken - about 1 split breast's worth, cut into bite-sized pieces
one large, in season tomato (we got ours from Carpenter's, which already has their wonderful organic tomatoes at the market)
a handful of Michigan asparagus, chopped into bite-sized pieces
a large, lovely organic Carpenter Farms tomato (or tomato of choice)
3 - 4 cloves of garlic sliced thin
a handful of Frog Holler basil, torn
olive oil
Pasta of choice
kosher salt and pepper to taste
parmigiano reggiano to taste for serving


1. Start the water for making the pasta.
2. Prep your veggies and chicken, while heating about a TBS olive oil in a pan at medium heat.
3. When the oil is hot, drop the garlic in for about 30 seconds until it releases wonderful aroma. Toss the pasta in the pasta pot (the water should be ready by now).
4. Toss in the asparagus with the garlic.
5. About a minute after that, toss in the fresh tomatoes and cooked chicken. Toss and coat well with the asparagus and garlic. Turn the heat up to medium high for the last 30 seconds or so.
6. Take pan off the heat and place chicken/asparagus/tomato mixture in a large bowl. Add basil, kosher salt and lots of pepper. Toss.
7. Drain pasta and run under cold water. Usually I could combine the pasta with the "sauce" at this point, but I don't for this.
8. Take your plate, pile it with as much pasta as you'd like, top that with a generous dollop of the sauce and top that with shaved parmigiano reggiano to taste.

Serves 2 hungry people. Can easily be doubled or stretched to serve three.

Eat, and run out the door for good music and dancing!

The next night, we had a great, grass fed flank steak to use up from TMZ Farm. I decided to make open-faced steak sandwiches and a corn/tomato/lime salad. We had leftover Florida corn from Father's Day, so it was perfect. Again, we used some Carpenter tomatoes and organic basil from Frog Holler.

Open-Faced Steak Sandwiches


1 - 2 slices of 1/2" thick sourdough per person
olive oil
garlic salt
dried parsley
12 - 16 oz flank steak
2 - 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
crimini mushrooms - about 2 cups
kosher salt

1 TBS canola oil
1/4 cup low sodium tamari soy sauce
1 cup black currant juice or something similar
4 - 6 cloves crushed garlic (to taste)


1. Whisk together marinade ingredients. Place steak in marinade, let it marinate 4 - 12 hours.
2. When ready for dinner: wash and slice mushrooms, prep garlic. Preheat broiler. Slice bread and brush olive oil on top side of each piece. Sprinkle with garlic salt and parsley. Set aside.
3. Heat about 1/2 - 1 TBS oil in saute pan over medium heat. When hot, saute garlic for 30 seconds or so, until aroma is released. Add mushrooms. When the mushrooms are really well cooked, take off heat and sprinkle some kosher salt and lots of pepper over them.
4. While heating the pan for the saute, heat a grill plan to smoking. When you put in the garlic, put the steak on the pan. NOTE: Steak will stick, so if you have a way to brush your grill pan with some oil, please do. This can also be done on the grill over high, direct heat. Cook steak 3 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other for medium rare.
5. Take meat off the grill pan and let rest 5 minutes. Mushrooms will soon be ready. When you remove the meat from the grill, put the garlic toast under the broiler for about 2 minutes.
6. After toast is ready and meat has rested, slice the meat VERY THINLY against the grain. Pile meat on each slice of bread. Pile mushrooms on top of meat. Serve with Corn/Tomato/Lime salad.

Corn/Tomato/Lime Salad


kernels scraped off of two medium ears of corn
1 large tomato
1/4 fresh avocado, chopped (optional - I had this, D, who is allergic to avocadoes, did not - I added it separately)
fresh basil - a small handful, torn into pieces
1 tsp canola oil
juice from 1/2 largish lime
kosher salt to taste
a dash or two of chili powder or cumin

1. Before you do your other meal prep for the evening, combine all ingredients, stir a few times and let marinate while you do your other cooking.
2. Just before serving, stir a bit and taste for seasoning. Adjust seasoning. Enjoy!

This meal serves about 3 people. (I had one slice of the steak sandwich and a large serving of the salad, D and C both had two slices and some of the salad).


Mariposa said...

The IT Guy is crazy with pasta and is so excited to try your recipe. Though we might need to modify it a bit since some of the ingredients are not just readily available in most stores here.

Korie said...

Ooh, it all looks really yummy! I don't like asparagus though. I mean, I like the taste okay but the smelly pee afterwards really makes me eat it only every once in a looong while.

Jen said...

@Mariposa - The main thing, Mariposa, is just to use the freshest veggies that you can. In terms of kosher salt - that's just large-grained salt.

@Lilac - Whole button mushrooms, or halved mushrooms would work just as well, I think, or diced sauteed eggplant. This is just what I had around. And I agree about the after effects of asparagus. ;-)

Peter M said...

Oh I'm hungry! I'd love a bowl of that pasta...some mushrooms too!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Now I'm starving!!

Enjoy your glorious weather.

Jen said...

@Peter - as I said to Lilac - the mushrooms would be great with this in any combination!

@NYC - You, too - eat an apricot for me - they should be in season now in Roma, correct?

anno said...

oh my, this sure looks good.... if only we were getting tomatos and corn in our box today...

Jen said...

@Anno - no such luck, but this might be impetus to stop by Plum or the Farmers Market?

Ben said...

It sounds like you are having a great time in your hometown. Those three dishes sound so easy to make and delicious, just my kind of summer food.

Jen said...

@Ben - I was actually thinking of you last night when I put the corn-tomato salad together - it was a little inspired by some of the things you've posted. I really wanted it light and fresh.

Ivy said...

All your recipes are making me drool as they have some of my favourite ingredients in them like asparagus, mushrooms and avocado.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

All three dishes are mouthwatering! You just made me hungry!



Jen said...

@Ivy - I actually love those three together in an omelette, especially with cheddar, as well.

@Rosa - thanks so much, Rosa!

Dru said...

I'm going to make the pasta dish since it looks simple to prepare.

Jen said...

@Dru - they're all pretty simple to prepare, but maybe the pasta and corn salads are a little simpler than the steak sandwiches.

Momisodes said...

This ALL looks amazing. I will surely try your pasta recipe. Plus, corn, tomatoes and lime are some of my daughter's favorite things. I'll try whipping that up this weekend.

Thank you!

Jen said...

Wow, Momisodes - I sure wish I had a child who loved corn, tomatoes and lime. Well... he tolerates corn and tomatoes if they're in sauce or ketchup. Sometimes I wonder where he got his taste buds from, since I'm definitely more of a vegetarian at heart.

Proud Italian Cook said...

HI Jen, That steak sandwich and corn salad looks sooo good,I might have to whip that up for dinner soon! Love your profile picture, hope you're staying cool, it was 97here in Chicago, very sticky and humid!

Jen said...

Hey Proud Italian - It was pretty bad here, too, although we don't have quite the humidity that you do. Another advantage of these meals - heat elements are only on briefly!

peter said...

I'd like a steak sandwich, and a steak sandwich.

Jen said...

Peter, it really turned out well. Usually I'd prefer to rub garlic on the bread, but I have to say that the garlic salt really matched nicely with the sweetness of the beef marinade.

Unknown said...

These dishes all look so delicious!!

Jen said...

Thanks so much, Citygirl!

Lucy..♥ said...

Loving that pasta dish as well as everything else, nice and easy.... just love it! Great post ;-)

Goofball said...

yumm yumm yumm yumm

hurraaaaay for summer
hurraaaaaaay for summer salads
hurraaaaaaaaaaaaay fro summer festivals!

Jen said...

Lucy - that was the point - easy and delicious.

Goofball - I couldn't agree with you more!

Anonymous said...

YOur recipes are fabulous but I simply cannot get my husband to eat half of the things you have in frustrating...and it makes eating so boring ;(...he's gonna have MAJOR problems at specs and cb's reception....still gonna try these out!