I’m writing today’s post from my sofa, where I’ve been stationed for the past 48 hours, attempting to heal the wound that comes from dropping a food processor blade on the top of my bare foot. It doesn’t sound too traumatic, and in truth it isn’t despite the stitches, but the location of the injury has rendered my right foot useless, and in an effort to control the swelling I’ve been sitting with my leg elevated, binge-watching Netflix while eating watermelon and drinking iced green tea.
In an act of desperation mixed with boredom, I hobbled to the kitchen last night to make dinner. I needed to do something, but the chivalrous men I live with had made sure there wasn’t much available for me to fret over. I knew that meal-making was up for grabs so I focused on that, and in less than 20 minutes I had boiled some noodles, made a salad, whisked together two quick sauces, and sent Rob outside to grill a flank steak.
The fact that I made this meal on one foot is a testament to how easy it truly is, and now that I’ve had some time to digest it, I’ve decided that this just might be the best thing to serve to friends in the summer months when you can’t/don’t want to cook. The dishes taste best when served at room temperature, practically requiring them to be made in advance, and as you know, this is the Holy Grail of easy and efficient entertaining in my books.
Of course, I'd round out the meal with a few more options if I was planning to serve this to my friends. I’ve had plenty of time on the sofa to think about this today, so here’s the room temperature Asian-inspired menu for casual entertaining I came up with during the first episode of the new season of Orange is the New Black.
Asian-Inspired Menu for Casual Entertaining
- Spicy sesame noodle (recipe below)
- Asian-style steak salad (recipe below)
- Hoisin-glazed grilled salmon
- Avocado salad with carrot-ginger dressing (SO good!)
- Lemon and lime posset with toasted coconut shortbread
Spicy Sesame Noodles
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1lb. Chinese noodles, rice noodles, vermicelli, or angel hair pasta
- 12 green onions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
- ½ cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
- 3-4 fresh Thai basil leaves, thinly sliced
Heat one tablespoon of the oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and sauté 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl. Add the remaining oil and the following 6 ingredients and whisk to blend.
Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain thoroughly and transfer to bowl with the sauce. Add sliced green onions and toss to coat noodles.
Let stand at room temperature until noodles have absorbed dressing, tossing occasionally, about 1 hour. Stir in peanuts and garnish with Thai basil; toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature.
Asian-Style Beef Salad
For the dressing:
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek (or chili-garlic paste)
- 5 teaspoons sesame oil
For the salad:
- 1 (1 – 1 ½ lbs.) flank steak
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 head Boston lettuce, leaves gently torn
- 2 cups shredded cabbage (or bagged coleslaw mix)
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced on bias
- 4 green onions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil (or Thai basil), chopped
- Optional: 1 Thai chili, thinly sliced
Make the salad dressing by combining the lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, sambal oelek, and sesame oil in a small bowl, stirring to combine.
Place the steak in a large baking pan. Combine ½ cup of the dressing, the garlic and fresh ginger and whisk to combine. Pour over the beef, turning to coat, cover and refrigerate for 2 – 8 hours (overnight is great).
Prepare the grill for medium heat, or heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the steak until well-browned, about 6-8 minutes per side, depending on how you like your meat cooked. Remove from heat, cover with foil and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
While the beef is resting, prepare the salad. Line a serving platter with Boston lettuce leaves. Top with shredded cabbage, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, green onions, mint, cilantro, basil and chili (if using) and gently toss with your hands to combine.
Drizzle the remaining salad dressing over the salad. Thinly slice the beef on a diagonal against the grain and place on top of the salad. Serve at room temperature.
Spicy sesame noodles adapted from here.