Over the weekend I tested and photographed a recipe for one of my clients that was an arugula salad topped with grilled peaches (from The Peach Truck), blue cheese, thinly sliced red onions and hazelnuts along with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. All very good and summer-like and beautiful.
Using the leftovers I put together pretty much the same thing for our supper with the added deliciousness of a Middle Eastern seasoned and grilled flank steak.
The first time I was really aware of Za’atar seasoning was while having dinner a couple of years ago at one of my favorite Nashville restaurants, Epice. They served us wonderful bread with a dipping sauce that was more flavorful than the norm. I inquired about the seasoning and was told it was Za’atar. Middle Eastern in origin, it has been one of my seasoning basics ever since. I put it on my roasted vegetables, in salad dressings and rub it into steaks or chicken, lamb or pork before grilling. You can now buy it at lots of grocery stores and markets. I buy mine at K & S World Market on Charlotte Avenue.
Thank you to all our Nashville international community who open markets and restaurants where we can find such wonderful things to eat. You have brought the world to us bite by delicious bite.
It’s very easy to make your own. All you need is minced fresh thyme or dried thyme, toasted sesame seeds, ground sumac and sea salt.
Grilled Za'atar Flank Steak and Peaches, Blue Cheese and Hazelnut Salad
- 4 handfuls of fresh baby arugula leaves
- 3-4 fresh peaches, pitted and cut into sections
- 3 tablespoon olive oil for brushing on peaches
- 1/4 cup olive oil whisked with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar & salt in a small bowl
- 1/2 of a small red onion very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts
- 1 to 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 to 1 lb piece of flank steak
- 2 tablespoons Za’atar (recipe to make your own below)
- sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Rub meat surface with olive oil and Za’atar on both sides. Let sit for 10 minutes while grill heats up. (You can also cook under oven broiler)
- Grill meat to your liking, but will be best if left pink inside. The meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill. Let meat rest while you make the salad.
- Brush peach wedges with olive oil and grill for about 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove from grill and set aside.
- Add thinly sliced red onions to the small bowl of olive oil-balsamic mixture. Toss onions to coat.
- Right before serving slice the flank steak very thin.
- Add arugula leaves to a large salad bowl. Top with onions, grilled peaches, steak, blue cheese and hazelnuts. Drizzle remaining olive oil-balsamic mixture or other dressing over salad and serve with additional salt and pepper.
Ingredients for Za’atar if you want to make your own: 4 tablespoons minced fresh thyme (or 3 of dried ground); 4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, 4 teaspoons ground sumac, 1 teaspoon sea salt.
Directions for making Za’atar: Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. If using fresh thyme then store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Teresa Blackburn http://www.foodonfifth.com http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com
Today’s temperature in Nashville, Tennessee as I post this at 6:34pm CST: 94 degrees and feels like 104 degrees (official report!). Let’s eat something cold, really cold like a chilled iceberg wedge with a frozen blue cheese dressing.
A cold blast-from-the-past with an updated twist.
As you know blue-cheese dressing is a must for this salad, but frozen blue-cheese ice cream dressing is even better!
I had a version of this salad while working on a photo shoot in Florida a few years ago. It was late in the day, I was hot & tired. I walked to a nearby restaurant close to my hotel for dinner at the end of the day. I lazily chose the “classic wedge salad” and when it arrived at my table the dressing was frozen….a blue-cheese ice cream dressing right on the top of my wedge slowly melting down into & between the leaves. Ingenious.
A good blue cheese with lots of veins….yogurt…hot sauce…my homemade lemon-salt and…….
….a generous grinding of my friend Jesse (Food Sheriff) Goldstein’s very own invention “Flower Pepper”. To be more exact “Uncle Daisy’s Organic Flower Pepper”. Jesse gave me a jar of his special pepper chock full of dried flowers as a gift and it added just the right flavor to this recipe. It is not available in stores but you can make your own. Go to Jesse’s blog post that tells you how.
Ingredients blended together and frozen in my ice-cream freezer but left a bit soft to scoop onto the top of the wedge!
Pancetta cooked until very crisp and most of the fat rendered in my Lodge cast iron skillet.
Updated….Neo-Classic Iceberg Wedge Salad…for hot days to cool you down.
Neo-Classic Iceberg Lettuce Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ice Cream Dressing
Ingredients & Equipment:
Electric ice cream freezer ready to make ice cream according to package directions for your particular machine.
- In a bowl mix together Greek yogurt, blue cheese crumbles, a healthy pinch of lemon salt, a generous grinding of Flower Pepper and a few shakes of hot sauce to taste. Stir until well blended.
- Scrape mixture into the ice cream freezer and freeze according to package directions or until mixture is “ice cream frozen”. Scrape blue cheese ice cream dressing in a plastic container and pop in the refrigerator freezer while you prepare the salads. Don’t let the dressing get too frozen as it will be hard to scoop.
- On four plates place one Iceberg Lettuce wedge. Sprinkle tomato halves & crisp pancetta over the wedges.
- Add a scoop (or two) of Blue Cheese Ice Cream Dressing over each wedge right before serving.
Teresa Blackburn teresablackburnfoodstyling.com
I love Garden Parties. Whatever the season. May Garden Parties in Nashville are the best. Gardens are verdant, flowers blooming, herbs abundant and the weather is still cool enough to keep the mosquitos at bay. This was the setting yesterday for the 2015 Historic Germantown Garden Guzzle, an annual event that is now over 26 years old. The idea is to tour neighborhood gardens, drink wine and beer, have a few snacks along the way and convene with neighbors to celebrate the coming of summer. It is a unique Historic Germantown Neighborhood event and it has been mine, and Wouter’s, pleasure to have been a part of it for 10 years.
This year our garden was on the tour. As a garden host it is expected of one to have some sort of “bites” available for the “guzzlers”. After rummaging around in our cheese drawer and a quick trip to the grocery these are the “bites” I came up with. “Sun-dried Tomato-Fresh Dill-Cream Cheese & Feta with Zaatar Spread” for matzoh & water crackers and “Blackberry-Goat Cheese & Blue Cheese Dip” with sweet potato chips, flax-seed chips & crisp raisin bread plus a large bowl of chilled green grapes.
(I used my new “Hasami Porcelain” bowls from “Wilder” which is an amazing art and home goods shop in our neighborhood on 4th Avenue North.)
These were both “off the cuff” recipes based on what I had in the fridge and pantry. I was pretty confident about the sun-dried tomato-dill dip but not so sure about the combination of blackberries and blue cheese? A delicious combination on both counts!
Don’t you think this color is both fantastic and just a bit odd for anything other than ice cream? I do, but it was fantastic all the same.
Our dog Ella standing partially under the table hoping to catch a few bites for herself!
Wouter here is a bite for you…enjoy while in Amsterdam!
Here is an older blog post I did a few years ago on our “Guzzle”.
Sundried Tomato-Dill-Feta & Zaatar Spread and Blackberry-Goat Cheese & Blue Cheese Dip
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
- 2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
- 1 generous Tbsp Zaatar
- 1 pint fresh blackberries + extra for garnish
- 6 ozs blue cheese crumbled
- 8 ozs goat cheese softened
1. For Sun-dried Tomato-Dill Spread put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and spreadable. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve with crackers such as salted matzoh and water crackers.
2. For the Blackberry-Blueberry Dip put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust to your liking. Serve with chips such as sweet potato, flaxseed and raisin bread crisps.
Notes: Feel free to experiment and come up with your own “what do I have on hand” dips and spreads for summer parties. Keep it simple and fresh and it will be hard to go wrong.