It’s been the summer of oven-free cooking.
I’ll admit that it hasn’t been completely oven-free. There was that day in early summer when I decided to make shallot confit. Nearly set my kitchen ablaze when the olive oil heated, expanded, and flowed onto the oven floor. Which isn’t such a problem unless you panic and reach for a wad of paper towels to mop up the mess. An act that my husband described as “not my best moment”. (Hint, hot oil + paper + blistering coils = the kind of gentle flames that require the front yard testing of a 10-year-old fire extinguisher.)
There might have been a roasted chicken or two, I remember a baked blueberry oatmeal, a sheet pan of salty olive oil granola. But otherwise it’s been magically quiet on the oven frontier. I’m a griller these days, a smoker to be exact. And let’s not confuse that last sentence…a smoker of edible things, not the inhalable variety.
Smoking builds on my favorite style of summer cooking – easy, minimal ingredients, and very little prep time. It lets me enjoy everything that our short but sweet summer season has to offer. Paddleboarding on the lake, beach trips with the kids, hiking with my pup Happy in the woods. Which is most fun when she’s not chasing bears and my itty bitty pepper spray keychain poses no threat of actual use.
It’s the kind of food that I love to pair with equally easy sides – vegetables fresh from my CSA, simply prepared, lightly cooked.
In my last post I mentioned that I’d be taking on fewer but more meaningful projects so I’m happy this week to showcase Taylor Farms, a California-based grower of produce whose focus is on sustainability and food safety. They offer a range of easy breezy products from pre-made salad kits to fresh organic bagged greens and vegetables.
And while I still get my weekly CSA, it’s nice on occasion to work with products that have gotten the bulk of the kitchen labor out of the way. One of my first posts on the blog was about my original CSA experience – something that I described as “not for the faint of heart” lest you enjoy hours of weekly prep work with the rinsing, scrubbing, bagging of your weekly haul.
Which – let me clarify – I enjoy tremendously and will continue to support. I find vegetable prep work to be meditative, on par with a solo trip to the Ashram, especially when the kids are at camp and I have the house to myself.
But there’s also a time and a place for quick hacks that let you eat a gorgeous, well-prepared meal without all of the work.
The best part about packaged greens, especially those that come with a lip-smacking dressing and a few special garnishes, is that you can add a small number of ingredients – say some smoked meat, and a few extras from your latest CSA vegetable box delivery – and make it your own.
This week I used Taylor Farms’ Southwest Chopped Salad kit as a base (think green cabbage, romaine, carrots, a few different types of herbs and seeds and a cilantro dressing) and loaded it up with some of my favorite summer ingredients.
I smoked a well-marbled ribeye (rubbed it generously in steak seasoning and smoked it low and slow on the Traeger before adding a few sexy grill marks with a blazing hot pan). Feeling the grilling vibe, I added thick slices of CSA onions to the pan before charring some candy-sweet corn. Piled onto crisp Taylor Farms greens and topped with crunchy radishes, the smoked meat and grilled vegetables made for the kind of salad that I’ll crave in the colder months. The best part: it took a whole 10 minutes of active duty.
Don’t sweat it if you don’t own a smoker. Smoking adds a depth of flavor that I’ve found unparalleled in other cooking methods, but there are ways to get around it. You can buy relatively cheap handheld smokers on Amazon; I bought something years ago called The Smoking Gun. It hangs out in its original box in my kitchen cupboard, above the Instant pot (again, still boxed), right next to the food dehydrator (tag attached), kitty-corner to the yogurt maker (no comment). If you’re more successful at buying and actually using these kinds of tabletop tools than I am, then by all means, go forth and conquer.
Additionally, you can buy relatively cheap stovetop smokers that you fill with wood chips and can use to smoke everything from salts to meats and vegetables.
Or if you’re feeling exceptionally lazy this summer, as I most heartily recommend, feel free to grill or sear your meat on top of the stove. In a regular old pan, sans smoke, but you’ll still get that delicious Maillard reaction.
And for heaven’s sake, steer clear of the oven…unless you’re planning on burning some shallot oil or making those delicate blueberry oats. Both valiant and noble goals but in my mind, a lily gilded. After all, there are bears out there to chase. Onward.
This sponsored post was sponsored by Taylor Farms. The opinions and text are my own. Thank you Taylor Farms for supporting healthy eating initiatives.
- 1 package Taylor Farms Southwest Chopped Salad Kit
- 1 10–12-oz rib eye steak
- 2-3 tablespoons steak seasoning (I used Traeger Grills’ Prime Rib Rub but feel free to pick your favorite)
- 2-3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 2 ears corn, shucked
- 3 small onions, peeled and cut into thick slices
- 2-3 radishes, thinly sliced
- Flake salt, to taste
- Preheat your smoker for 10-15 minutes on its lowest smoke setting. When ready to smoke, give your steak a good rub with the steak seasoning and coat with 2 tablespoons of the grapeseed oil before placing on the grill to smoke for an hour.
- Towards the end of the smoking period, heat a cast iron grill pan on high heat to finish the steak and grill the vegetables.
- Remove the steak from the smoker and add to the hot grill pan, searing each side for a minute to get strong grill marks.
- Set aside and tent with foil to rest while you finish grilling the vegetables.
- Add the remaining grapeseed oil to the grill pan and add the onions, grilling 1-2 minutes per side until they have nice grill marks and have softened on the inside. Remove to a plate and sprinkle with flake salt.
- Add the corn to the pan and cook, rotating every so often, until the corn has nice grill marks. Remove to a bowl and cut off the kernels.
- Once the vegetables have been prepped, slice the steak. You may not need all of it for your salads so be prepared for some leftovers!
- When ready to make the salad, toss the chopped salad greens with the dressing from the kit and divide between two bowls.
- Add the steak, grilled vegetables, and the radishes and then top with the additional kit ingredients (the tortilla strips, pumpkin seeds, etc).