Monday, July 26, 2010

Steak and Feta Bowl with Tahini Cilantro Dressing

My main man. He's a hard worker and a good husband. When I met Jim in 2006 I wanted to impress him with my culinary skills. Only problem was, I didn't have any. Or at least I didn't think I had any. But I was going to fake it until I made it. I started by trying my moms lasagna recipe - it was the first time Jim came over to my house for a dinner date and we made this dish together. Because of Jim, I got in the kitchen and started learning how to cook and provide for the two of us. Funny thing happened, I really enjoy it and I'm not afraid of cooking and messing up anymore.

I used to be so scared of recipes with odd ingredients, or techniques I wasn't familiar with. What is the worst that could happen? You have to order out for Chinese or pizza? And I always learn something from my messes and successes. My mom has taught me to NOT be afraid, to at least TRY and that's what I'm telling you today. Try something new in the kitchen, you just might surprise yourself, and your main man.

On this particular afternoon, Jim inadvertently reminded me why I started cooking in the first place. I'm a feeder! It sounds odd, but I get a lot of pleasure out of cooking and feeding this man that I love so much. And he totally deserves it too. He remembers to take the trash out every week - and somehow remembers when it's a recycle day or not. I deeply appreciate men who take the garbage out, it's sexy!

Okay, enough being silly I have an adventurous meal to share that I know you and your main squeeze will love. I was so skeptical at first, but I'm glad I took the chance because the contrasting flavors in this Steak and Feta bowl with Tahini Cilantro Dressing will blow your mind.

The recipe is adapted from Mel a fellow food blogger at Bitchincamero who says this is a "magical bowl of goodness." Green onions, golden raisins and carrots stirred into rice, topped with seared steak, and drizzled with a tangy cilantro and tahini dressing.

Ingredient list: rice (I used white rice because that was what I had on hand), vegetable or chicken stock (I used chicken bouillon), skirt steak, carrots, green onions, raisins and feta cheese crumbles.

Bring the stock to a boil in a small pot, then add the rice. Once it comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook undisturbed for 35 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Alternatively, you could buy the single or double servings of Uncle Ben instant rice that cooks in the microwave - I love that stuff!

Side Note: You know how raisins will plump up if you soak them in a liquid. What if you added the raisins at the same time you add the rice? I didn't think to do this, but I bet the raisins would plump up with chicken stock. I think that sounds really good and will try it next time.

The dressing - it is a very important topping and so easy to whip up. I had tahini in the pantry left over from another dish and its actually how I found this recipe on Mel's site in the first place - I was looking for dishes with tahini in the ingredient list.

What is tahini? It is a thick Middle Eastern paste made from ground sesame seeds. Tahini is often used in making hummus (mashed chickpeas, flavored with lemon juice and garlic), baba ghanoush (a puree of eggplant, lemon juice, garlic, and oil), halvah (a confection that includes honey or cane syrup), and other traditional Middle Eastern dishes.

To make this dressing, use a blender or food processor and blend 2 T tahini, 2 T white wine vinegar, 1/4 C olive oil and 1 C cilantro. Taste and adjust to your liking. I added a splash more of vinegar for tang. Set aside.

The shredded carrots, green onions and raisins are stirred into the rice, and give this dish great texture and flavor.

The term skirt steak refers two cuts of beef steak, one from the plate and one from the flank. Both are long, flat cuts that are prized for flavor rather than tenderness. The types are used interchangeably. Skirt steak is the choice meat for making fajitas and to aid in tenderness and flavor, they are often marinated.

This recipe did not call for a marinade, but next time I will make a marinade for the steak and let it sit overnight. I do not like tough steak, and I think the meat (the star ingredient) can be been done better. Skirt steaks are either grilled or pan-seared very quickly or cooked very slowly, typically braised. Because of their strong graining, skirt steak is sliced across the grain for maximum tenderness.

The recipe calls for seasoning the steak with salt and grilling. I seasoned the steak with a special spice blend created by Bobby Flay consisting of ancho chili powder, ground cinnamon , ground cumin , light brown sugar, kosher salt and black pepper. Then I grilled the steak on a grill pan indoors.

Stir the carrots, green onions and raisins into the rice. Top with grilled steak, drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles. The result is this wonderful rice bowl filled with lots of bold flavors. It didn't take long to prepare and was a very filling meal. Next time you have leftover fajitas, I suggest you recreate this meal with your leftovers.  


  1. Nothing like a good man that knows how to take out the garbage! :)

    Your blog is wonderful and this recipe, (like so many of your other recipes) is now on my list of things to try!

  2. Jim's a lucky guy! And I love your idea about adding the raisins with the stock so they get plump and juicy!


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