Friday, July 30, 2010

Entertaining Made Easy! Gorgonzola Quinoa Salad and Dijon Marinated Steak Tips

A few evenings ago, John's friend Paul stopped by the apartment to pay us a visit.  Paul and his wonderful wife Meaghan are some of John's dearest friends, and people I adore as well.  I won't even start to go on about how much I love their baby daughter...Needless to say, as soon as I heard that Paul would be by after work, I immediately started planning what I could make for dinner for us, should he have time to stay, that would be simple so I could continue enjoying the company, delicious, and elegant.  I am still rather obsessed with Quinoa, so I decided to make a nice Quinoa salad, and since John and I were "fished out" from our trip to Portland, I thought some steak tips might also be nice.  At the last minute, worried that I didn't have enough, I threw some Garlic Chicken Sausage in the cart as well-just in case.

When I arrived back home- I was VERY glad I had chosen such an easy meal- it was very nice to catch up with Paul.  As we chatted in the kitchen, I threw together a quick refrigerator marinade (basically of anything I could find in my fridge) of Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, a little salt, and pepper.  I love making marinades this way- it uses up ingredients, it's fun to flavor combine, and it doesn't take much thought.  Perfect. I added the marinade to a large Ziploc bag, and then added the steak tips, sealed the bag and shook it til each piece was nicely coated.  I wanted them to marinate just a bit, so I started on the Quinoa.

I am still SO impressed at how easy this stuff is to make.  2 cups water, 1 cup Quinoa-boil and simmer- and done when the water is completely absorbed.  It really does make this a perfect weeknight dinner.  Simple and nutritious.

Of course, I had to jazz up the Quinoa a little right?  When it was finished cooking, I crumbled about half a medium size wedge of Gorgonzola cheese into a bowl, and then added the Quinoa on top.  I stirred to combined and ended up with Gorgonzola Quinoa-yum.  Then I added a few handfuls of baby spinach to the mix, along with a hand full or two of slivered almonds, the same of dried cranberries, a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a little salt and pepper.  A quick stir in the bowl and the spinach wilted, and then it was done.  It looked gorgeous, and it smelled delicious.  

With that out of the way, and two hungry guys on my hands- I immediately started the steak tips and the chicken sausage.  Normally, I would have liked to have used the grill pan for both, but decided to broil the sausage in the oven while the steak tips cooked in the grill pan.  I think I might always cook it that way- the "sausages" got that great blistered look to them as they do on the grill, so they just looked like summer.  When the steak tips were done in the grill pan, a simple plating for everyone to serve themselves and we were ready to dine.

This was my second salad using Quinoa and I swear- I love it more and more!  The creamy and tangy Gorgonzola cheese complimented the nutty seed so nicely, and then paired with the tart cranberries and the crunchy nuts- the combination was just fantastic!  The spinach added a "healthy" vibe in the midst of what tasted otherwise decadent.  

I had chosen the Gorgonzola because so often you find it paired with steak in steak houses- the flavors always seem to mix so nicely to me.  Here was no exception, but it was lovely to have the flavors present without the Gorgonzola sprinkled over french fries or put into butter.  The steak itself was really tasty as well- and somehow I actually nailed "medium" on each piece!  I tend to make meat pretty rare (which is how I like it) and John is much more on the medium side- I was glad to meet the goal this time!  The marinade had lent a nice punch of flavor to the meat, not over powering, just present enough to be interesting.

I have to say, for a week night meal when guests are over- this was a home run (can you tell I have Sox on the brain??)- What are some of your favorite weeknight entertaining menus?

On another note:
I want to give a big shout out THANK YOU to the folks over at En Chocolat who featured me today in their Follow Friday write up!  They have a great site over there- with plenty of chocolate give aways and great information- check them out!  Thank you SO much!   


The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Yum! Yum! Hooray Quinoa!!!

The Souper said...

Quinoa wins again :) I like to saute veggies in oil, add a squirt or two of tomato paste, then low-sodium chicken broth instead of water. Then add Quinoa. Yum.

Shannon said...

I added crumbled gorgonzola to my quinoa last night(thanks to reading your post) and in addition, some chopped green tomatoes. Thanks for the inspiration!

Boston Food Diary said...

So glad to hear it Shannon! Glad I could help! Gorgonzola is delicious isn't it?

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