I’m pretty sure that Adam and I found the perfect way to commemorate Memorial Day. We spent a week traveling from Georgia to New Jersey and back again with the “excuse” of a family wedding propelling us. The last time these two Prices took a real vacation was four years ago, and we were beyond ready for an adventure. I tried to prepare Adam for the beauty that we would experience, as I have trekked this path before, although my memory short-changed me. It was all so much more glorious than I even remembered.
What I didn’t expect from this whirlwind tour of the Eastern United States was the sappiness that overwhelmed Adam and I as we chatted about Memorial Day. Exercising our freedom to explore our country, which so many men and women have fought to protect, over this holiday weekend was poetic. We rode highways and crossed bridges named for Veterans and viewed battlegrounds and museums dedicated to heroes of our time. Our gratitude is abundant.
We aimed to travel at a mostly leisurely pace and to absorb the gifts of city, country, mountains, family, and beach. Taking in the sites along the way, we started with the great community of Asheville,which is chock full of art and nature.
Winding through roller coaster roads with sprawling farmlands led us to the Blue Ridge Mountains
and Shenandoah Valley
where we camped
surrounded by natural wonders.
I took Adam on a tour of James Madison University, where I went to college many, many moons ago.
Memmmories….like the corners of my mind.
And then we two-lane-road-tripped it as far as humanly possible before entering the madness of I95 North to reach our family on the eve of the wedding festivities. We logged some superb snuggle and play time with our niece and nephews in the dirty Jerz until we needed to suit up for the black tie event.
Super glad these two got married!!
Post-wedding, we had to say good-bye to the fam (booooo) and motor on. For the last leg of the trip, we bee-lined down to the beach in South Carolina for some of Mother Ocean’s calming love.
Ahhhhhhhhh. The water was fine, I’ll tell you. We swam, collected shells, and drank a fruity cocktail smack dab in the middle of the day. This trip was just what the doctor ordered.
Y’all know me well enough by now to assume that Adam and I ate our way through this journey.
We hit highly recommended breakfast cafes,
a reputable butcher shop proudly serving local meats,
the tiny restaurant that taught me the goodness of a well-made veggie burger,
Murrel’s Inlet for fresh seafood,
Pawley’s Front Porch (featured on Diner’s, Drive-ins, and Dives),
and a road side farm stand too.
But, Lawd. Eating on the road will make you feel like a fatso in no time.
Healthy options were limited or nonexistent in many situations. We did pack real, whole food to get us through the first few days of the trip, and we didn’t stop at a single fast food joint. But, I’m sure we ate potatoes at least once every day. And our bacon intake was a little ridiculous. A turkey club at the hotel lunch cafe was a better choice than a hot dog made of who knows what. Finding fresh, veggie-centered food on the road, especially in the South, was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Coming home to a box full of locally grown produce was a very happy turn of edible events. I’ve been eating veggies like crazy since I got back. My body’s telling me to, and I’m listening.
Which brings me (finally, you say?) to this week’s meal:
Mediterranean Marinated Grilled Flank Steak with Kale and Kohlrabi Slaw and Broccoli Feta Casserole.
Let’s get started with the slaw, because it needs time to wilt.
To make the dressing, you only need a few items.
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
2 T champagne or apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
squeeze of honey
olive oil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, honey, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Grab a whisk and stir vigorously while your slowly stream in about 1/2 Cup of EVOO. The dressing will thicken up nicely. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
This recipe yields about a Cup of dressing.
For the slaw:
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, washed and spun dry, cut into thin ribbons*
1 lemon- maybe just half…
1 large or 2 small kohlrabi, skin removed, cut into matchsticks
Couple handfuls of dried cranberries
1 Cup walnuts, toasted in a dry pan over medium low heat until toasty, and cooled
*Place your kale ribbons in a large bowl and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the leaves. Toss and let them begin to break down while you cut your kohlrabi, toast your nuts and let them cool. The kale will appreciate a head start.
Once your ingredients are all set, drizzle them with some of your dressing and toss to coat.
I used about 2/3 of the dressing to coat my slaw ingredients. You don’t want to drown the ingredients!
Cover the slaw bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. An hour or longer is even better.
To marinate your flank steak:
Zest and juice of a lemon
4 – 5 cloves garlic, pressed
about 5 sprigs fresh oregano leaves, chopped
handful fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
olive oil, salt and pepper
Simply drizzle a platter large enough to hold your steak with olive oil. Place steak in the dish. Top with lemon zest and juice, herbs, garlic, and a serious sprinkling of salt and pepper. Drizzle more olive oil over the top and use your hands to rub the marinade onto both sides of the steak. Allow steak to soak in the flavor for 20 minutes to an hour or two.
This broccoli and feta casserole was inspired by the traditional Spanikopita. We used our farm-fresh broccoli instead of spinach, skipped the puff pastry, embraced the feta, garlic, and eggs, and added a couple special elements to keep the casserole light and flavorful.
For the casserole: Preheat oven to 350°.
1 shallot, minced or diced small
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 Cup creme fraiche (you could substitute sour cream)
3 – 4 sprigs fresh oregano leaves, chopped
handful fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
a good hunk of feta cheese- about a Cup, crumbled
1/3 – 1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, shredded thinly
Combine eggs, creme fraiche, herbs, garlic, shallot and a few pinches of salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk it all together.
Place your broccoli, chick peas, and feta in a large bowl.
Pour the sauce over the broccoli, beans, and feta. Toss to coat well.
Spray an oven-safe baking dish with Pam, or use butter or oil instead.
Turn the mixture out into your baking dish.
Sprinkle lightly with shredded cheese. Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until your broccoli is fork tender. If your broccoli is tender, but the cheese isn’t browned, go ahead and broil it for a few minutes, watching carefully.
Mmmmm! While your broccoli casserole cooks, fire up your grill to high heat. Allow your steak to come to room temperature before cooking, for best results.
Throw that baby on the grill and cook for about 4 -6 minutes on the first side. Then, flip her over and cook another 2 – 6 minutes, or until she reaches 120° in the thickest part for a perfecto medium rare.
Allow the steak to rest 7 – 10 minutes before slicing across the grain with a very sharp knife.
Then, it’s time to plate!!!!!!!!
Oooh- first, taste your wilted slaw. After it chills you will have a better idea of how to tweak the flavor. If it needs a touch more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, you can add it and toss just before serving.
Now, choose a few slices of steak and lay them on the plate. Add a scoop of broccoli casserole and a nice helping of your fresh, springy slaw. Pour a little of the accumulated steak juices that pool in the bottom of the platter over your sliced meat, and get ready to feast!
Ooohhhh! We scarfed down this meal! The steak was super juicy, flavorful, and delicious- but I really didn’t eat all that much of it. I was too busy filling up on my veggies! The broccoli feta casserole was the jam. What a great invention! The chickpeas and feta almost had the same lovely texture. The “skin” on the outside was kind of taut and that gave way to tenderness on the inside. The fresh broccoli still had some crunch to it, which was fab. The eggs held the whole shebang together, but it didn’t feel like breakfast. It wasn’t heavy or weighed down or overly creamy like casseroles can be. The saltiness of the feta rang through each bite, tempered by the garlic and shallot, and those herbs really popped. It truly was reminiscent of Spanikopita, without all the buttery pastry.
The kale and kohlrabi slaw complemented the casserole perfectly. It offered a light, tangy, crunchiness to the dish. There were only four ingredients, but they provided a well-balanced flavor profile. The kale: piney, and very slightly bitter. The walnuts: rich and nutty. The kohlrabi: sort of that cross between an apple and a mild turnip- a touch of sweetness and a lot of bursts of refreshment. The dried cranberries: sweet and tart. The dressing brought forth a little creaminess and tang for a bright finish. The texture of this sassy side dish was a dance of soft meets crunchy meets chewy. Love.
Please feel free to take this meal and make it your own. Serve the salad and casserole with shrimp or chicken, if you like. Oooh- dice up the kohlrabi and put it IN the casserole. Substitute cauliflower for the broccoli. Stuff the casserole into a whole wheat pita with thinly sliced lamb. Use the slaw as a replacement for lettuce on a smokey chicken wrap! (That’s what I’m eating right now, and it is awesome.) You could add carrots, spring onions, rutabaga, turnips or whatever you have on hand to the slaw. Slaw is flexible like that. Anyway- take these ideas and make something that brings a smile to your face!
I’d say Adam and I are back in the saddle! Our vacation was a much-needed break from the norm, and we both feel refreshed and richer for our experiences.
We are looking forward to bringing you many more fresh, delicious meals as this spring quickly turns into summer.
Happy cooking and eating to you!