Caramelized Onion & Mushrooms Steak with Arugula Pesto Couscous

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What better way to start this food blogging adventure than with two of my all-time favorite foods: pesto and steak?

Pesto is my fave. So is steak. Steak is my love language, in fact. Both foods appear on my theoretical Last Meal list. Feeling happy? I want a steak. Feeling blue? I want a steak. Cold weather go-to food? I want steak. Summertime grilling choice? I want steak. Sensing the theme?

If you have a food processor, large or small, fresh pesto is possible. Traditional pesto is some blend of basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts, but I love mixing it up. Today's iteration swaps arugula for basil and I absolutely adore the peppery bite that the arugula brings to it. The rest of it entails some pine nuts (or pignoli if you want to pretend you're Italian), chunks of Parmesan, large peeled cloves of garlic, salt and pepper and some lemon zest.

Caramelizing onions is just an exercise in patience. I am not a patient person. But somehow it's a perfect way to unwind after a long day. You pour a glass of wine, you catch up with your sweetie about your day, you push onions around a pan over low heat until they become deep golden brown and you want to bottle their aroma and wear it on your pulse points in coming days.

Some people add sugar to caramelize onions faster. I do not do this. The natural sugars that this low and slow cooking releases is so perfect on its own, I just let it all work naturally. Don't forget - if you begin to feel impatient, just refill your glass of wine and carry on. I promise, the pan does the work and it's worth the wait.

Now the steak! For home cooking, I love a flank steak (sometimes labeled London broil). I kept it simple with salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and some crushed red pepper flakes.

Throw some oil into your pan nice and get it nice and hot - I used a cast iron skillet, but any oven-safe pan will work. When the oil starts to ripple like little baby waves, it's ready. I like to sear each side for about 3 minutes to lock in the flavors and then pop into a 400° oven until it's cooked to my liking. I go for rare to medium-rare, or 125°-135°. How do I know the temperature? A meat thermometer, one of the best kitchen investments I've ever made.

Make sure you let the meat rest for a few minutes. It lets the juicy deliciousness inside settle down and you want it that way.

For the couscous, you boil 1.5 cups of water, add 1 cup of couscous, stir and remove from heat. Cover for about 5 minutes and then fluff it with a fork. Or, if you've made deliciously garlicky pesto, you can stir in the pesto.

To the plate! VoilĂ :

I loved the combination of all of these flavors. The earthy mushrooms with the soft and sweet onions. The sharpness of the garlic and cheese and peppery arugula. The juicy bites of steak. This to me encompasses a pretty top notch meal.

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