Cast Iron Seared Steaks with Garlic Seasoned Salt

No grill, no problem! Learn how to perfectly cook steak in your cast iron skillet.

sliced medium rare steak

This post is sponsored by the New York Beef Council in collaboration for their first-ever #BeefTogether Virtual Steak Night. Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a virtual cooking class with the New York Beef Council to learn more cooking techniques to perfectly cook a steak on the cast iron skillet. I picked up a few new tips. 

Lean beef can be part of a heart-healthy lifestyle and is a nutrient-dense food. Beef is a source of important nutrients such as protein, iron, and zinc. Iron carries oxygen to our brain and body and zinc boosts our immune system.

Intimidated by cooking steak at home? Don’t be! Plus, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Create a simple dry rub and grab your cast iron skillet. Simply follow these steps to create a delicious steak at home.

How to cook steak on a cast-iron skillet:

This cooking technique first sears the steak stovetop, then finishes the cooking process in the oven.

Step One:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. The cook time for medium-rare (145 degrees F) can range anywhere from 7-15 minutes of cook time in the oven. There are many variables that can cause such a range, like if the steak is cold vs. room temperature or the thickness of the steak.

Instead of basing the cooking on time, shift the focus of the cooking time depending on the internal temperature.

strip steak on wooden cutting board

Step Two:

Allow the steak to come to room temperature – no longer than 30 minutes. Pat the steak dry with paper towels. This will promote more even browning and the rub to stick on better. Trim off excess fat, if desired. Rub seasoning blend on both sides evenly.

strip steak with dry rub

Step Three:

Place cast-iron skillet stovetop over high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil (or avocado oil) and allow to heat until shiny and glistening.
Note: Start the cooking process with oil as it has a higher smoke point than butter. If you want to add butter at the end, you can always baste it on top.

Step Four:

Using tongs, place the steak in the center of the pan. (Using tongs can help prevent any oil splattering on your hands.) Sear for about 1 minute, until a nice browned sear and the steak is easily able to move in the pan. If the steak is sticking to the pan, it’s not ready to be flipped. Don’t force it. Let it continue to cook then flip when ready and sear the other side.

Step Five:

Using oven mitts, transfer the steak in the cast-iron skillet into the oven. Cook for 7 minutes and take the temperature by placing the instant-read thermometer horizontally from the side so it penetrates into the thickest part of the steak.

temping a streak

Step Six: 

For medium-rare, pull out of the oven when the thermometer reads 140 degrees, then allow to rest to factor in carryover cooking to reach an optimal temperature of 145 degrees F. Using tongs, remove steak from the pan onto a clean cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and allow steak to rest 5-10 minutes.

tenting a steak in foil

Step Seven:

Slice the steak across the grain and serve immediately. And most importantly, enjoy it!

sliced medium rare steak

Tips for using dry rubs:

  • Dry herbs consist of herbs, spices, and other seasonings.
  • Rubs can be applied just before cooking or up to 2 hours in advance and refrigerated until cooking time.
ingredients for a spice blend

When to use dry rubs:

Trouble deciding if you should use a dry rub or marinade? Dry rubs are used for tender cuts of meat. Marinades are used for less tender cuts of meat, as the acid in the marinade helps tenderize the meat.

Cooking tips:

How to properly temp a steak:

Insert an instant-read thermometer horizontally from the side so it penetrates the thickest part of the center of the steak.

Thawing a frozen steak:

For best quality, defrost beef in the refrigerator. (Never at room temperature!) Place the frozen package on a plate or tray to catch any juices.

For ½ to ¾ inch steaks, allow for approximately 12 hours to thaw in the refrigerator.

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strip steak cooked to medium rare, sliced

Cast Iron Seared Strip Steaks with Garlic Seasoned Salt

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 7-15 minutes
  • Total Time: 16 minute
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: stove top to oven
  • Cuisine: american

Scale

Ingredients

2 (about 810 ounces each) boneless Strip Steaks, cut 1-inch thick
1-2 tablespoons canola oil (or avocado oil)

Garlic Seasoning Salt:
4 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion granules
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
4 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika


Instructions

  1. Allow steak to rest for up to 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 
  2. In a small food processor or spice grinder, pulse the rosemary, oregano, and onion granules to break them down to a similar size as the kosher salt. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, oregano, onion granules, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.
  3. Pat the steak dry with paper towels. Trim off excess fat, if desired. Rub seasoning blend on both sides evenly.
  4. Place cast-iron skillet stovetop over high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil and allow to heat until shiny and glistening. Using tongs, place the steak in the center of the pan. Sear for about 1 minute, until a nice browned sear and the steak is easily able to move in the pan. Then flip and sear the other side until browned.
  5. Using oven mitts, transfer the steak in the cast-iron skillet into the oven. Cook for 7 minutes and take the temperature by placing the instant-read thermometer horizontally from the side so it penetrates into the thickest part of the steak. Cook for temperature vs. time. The USDA recommends cooking until 145 degrees F for medium-rare. Adjust cooking time until the desired temperature is reached.
  6. Using tongs, remove steak from the pan onto a clean cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and allow the steak to rest 5-10 minutes.
  7. Slice the steak across the grain and serve immediately.

Keywords: steak, strip steak, beef, dinner, cast iron

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FAQ:

Where does the strip steak cut come from?

Strip steaks are cut from the short loin of a cow, which is located behind the rib area with the tenderloin.

anatomy of a cow
(image source: unknown)

What temperature should I cook the steak to?

Medium-rare: 145 degrees F
Medium: 160 degrees F
Well Done: 170 degrees F

What qualifies beef as “lean”?

Beef can only be claimed as “lean” if the cut of beef is less than 10 grams total fat, 4.5 grams or less saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving per 100 grams (about 3 ¾ ounces by weight).

What other ways can I use this Garlic Seasoned Salt?

  • Roasted vegetables
  • Popcorn
  • Homemade pita chips

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White Bean Shakshuka

Whip up this one-pan smoky White Bean Shakshuka for a weekend brunch, but it is just as good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

cast iron skillet with white bean shakshuka with a piece of bread

What is Shakshuka?

Shakshuka is a Mediterranean meal of poached eggs in a simmering tomato sauce with spices.

The beauty of this dish is that you can play around with the ingredients to customize it for your preference. I’ve even made a green shakshuka before!

Why you should always keep a well-stocked pantry.

Writing this blog post now, we are in the midst of COVID-19. We are taking fewer trips to the grocery store and may need to rely on pantry staples to create nutritious meals around. Mealtime inspiration is just a can opener away.

cast iron skillet with shakshuka

Is canned food healthy?

Canned foods are an easy, cost-effective way to eat healthy year-round. They are a simple, realistic way people can incorporate nutrients into meals.

Nutritionally speaking, canned food is comparable to its cooked fresh and frozen counterparts. Canned fruits and vegetables are packed at their peak of harvest, which means they are packed at their peak nutrient value. Crops that go directly from the field to the processor often retain vitamins better than those that travel hundreds of miles across the country and sit for days in produce bins. (resource)

portion of white bean shakshuka on a ceramic plate

What ingredients give this shakshuka a smoky flavor?

The smoky flavor mainly comes from two ingredients in this recipe – the fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika.

  • Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
    Fire-roasted tomatoes are made by charring the tomatoes over a flame before they’re diced and canned. You may even see little black flecks within your can. That is from the tomato making direct heat with the flame creating that smoky flavor.
  • Smoked Paprika
    Smoked paprika is made from pimiento peppers that have been dried and smoked over an oak fire, then ground into a fine powder, creating that earthy and smoky taste.
Cast iron skillet with a brunch recipe scooped with a wooden spoon

What equipment you need to make shakshuka:

  • Cast iron skillet or oven-safe pan* (see FAQ below if you don’t have one!)
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Can opener
  • Colander
plate of tomato sauce mixture with an egg and bread
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White Bean Shakshuka

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Whip up this one-pan smoky White Bean Shakshuka for a weekend brunch, but it is just as good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!


Scale

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1 (15oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups packed baby spinach
4 large eggs
Salt, to taste Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup feta crumbles
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Red pepper flakes, if desired
Crusty bread or pita, for serving


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet, preferably cast-iron over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook 2-3 minutes until tender and translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
  2. Add the smoked paprika, oregano, and tomato paste, consistently stirring for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. 
  3. Pour in the crushed tomatoes with their juices, beans, and spinach. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for 5 minutes to give the flavors time to come together and spinach has wilted.
  4. Turn off the heat. Use the back of a spoon to make a well in the tomato/bean mixture and crack the egg directly into it. Gently spoon a bit of the tomato mixture over the whites to help contain the egg. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  5. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 8 to 12 minutes. They’re done when the egg whites are an opaque white and the yolks have risen a bit but are still soft. They should still jiggle in the centers. (Keep in mind that they’ll continue cooking after you pull the dish out of the oven.) Cook to preferred doneness.
  6. Transfer the hot skillet to a heat-safe surface like the stove. Top with crumbled feta, fresh parsley, and red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve in bowls with crusty bread or pita on the side.

Notes

Don’t have an oven-safe pan or cast-iron pan? No problem! Once you have cracked the eggs into the skillet, lower the heat and place a lid on top and cook until the desired doneness.

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plate of white bean shakshuka with poached egg and a slice of bread

FAQ:

What if I don’t have a cast-iron pan?

Not a problem! Once you have cracked the eggs into the skillet, lower the heat and place a lid on top and cook until the desired doneness.

What if I can’t find fire-roasted tomatoes?

You can use regular crushed tomatoes for this recipe! If you are looking for an extra smoky flavor, then add a little extra smoked paprika.

What if I don’t prefer the smoky flavor?

Use plain crushed tomatoes and paprika (not smoked).

Salmon Burgers with Lemon Dill Horseradish Sauce

Rethink the classic burger with a seafood twist. Add these salmon burgers, made with Norweigan salmon, with lemon dill horseradish sauce to your menu rotation.

salmon burger with creamy sauce on a brioche bun

This post is sponsored by the Norwegian Seafood Council. Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

One perk of COVID-19 (always trying to find the positive) is that people are cooking more at home. The downside, we don’t necessarily have access to certain ingredients and are limiting grocery store trips.

Being strategic when grocery shopping and relying on pantry staples is key. Here in New Jersey, there are limits on amounts of certain proteins like chicken and eggs. At the grocery store, there is a whole department dedicated just to seafood. Don’t skip it!

opened face salmon burger with creamy dill sauce

Salmon is one of the most popular species consumed. With the high demand, the safest and most efficient way to feed the population is with farm-raised salmon. Norway is the world leader in the production of ocean-farmed sustainable salmon.

Understanding aquaculture

Aquaculture provides safeguarding to the environment and fish stocks for the future is the only way its aquaculture industry can remain sustainable. Sustainability has been one of the main objectives of the Norwegian fishing industry, and they are committed to producing seafood in a safe, controlled, and sustainable manner with strict regulations.

seafood from norway

Seafood from Norway

In Norway, salmon farmers monitor fish conditions carefully, control the salmon’s feed, and keep parasites out. This farmed environment helps resist disease. In Norway, farm-raised salmon live in their natural habitat and have plenty of room to swim. One of the myths about salmon farming is that the fish lives in crowded pens. The fact is, Norwegian salmon has plenty of space to grow as the pen holds 97.5% water and just 2.5% fish. Their pens are designed to ensure optimal growth and living conditions for the dish. Norwegian aquaculture industry sets the standard for high-quality, safe, and sustainably farmed salmon.

salmon burgers in a cast iron skillet
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salmon burger with creamy sauce on a brioche bun

Salmon Burger with Lemon Dill Horseradish Sauce

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Scale

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets skin and bones removed, chopped
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
canola oil for frying (can also use olive oil)

Yogurt-Dill Sauce:
1 cup plain full-fat yogurt
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup dill, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons) and zested (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon horseradish

To serve:
Brioche buns
Butter lettuce


Instructions

  1. In a food processor add salmon. Pulse a few times until the salmon breaks down into small pieces. (Tip: Pulse a few times vs. running the food processor)
  2. In a large bowl, combine salmon, breadcrumbs, egg, dill, salt, garlic powder, and lemon juice. Mix well, but make sure to not overwork the mixture. Shape into 6 burgers.
  3. For the yogurt-dill sauce: In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, mustard, dill, lemon juice, lemon zest, and horseradish. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add salmon burgers and cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes or until internal temperature reaches at least 145 F.
  5. To serve: Place a few pieces of butter lettuce on the bottom half of the bun, top with a burger, and a generous dollop of the yogurt-dill sauce.

Keywords: salmon, salmon burger, burger, seafood, omega3, heart healthy

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salmon burger with creamy sauce on a bun

FAQ

Can I freeze these salmon burgers?

Yes! Form the salmon into patties. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (so they don’t freeze to the pan!) and freeze until solid. Once frozen, wrap each individually with plastic wrap, then foil, then store in a freezer bag removing as much air as possible.

Can I grill these salmon burgers?

Yes, of course! I like using a cast-iron skillet to get a good sear, but grilling works great too! Tip for if you decide to grill – After forming the patties, refrigerate them for 10-20 minutes so they firm up a little to prevent them from falling apart on the grill.

How else can I use the salmon burgers?

These salmon burgers as leftovers are delicious! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Add to leafy greens
  • Crumble and scramble with eggs
  • Chop and add to a wrap
  • Serve with a sunny side egg on top

What else can I use the lemon dill horseradish sauce with?

Utilize this sauce any way you would utilize any other condiments! This pairs well with many foods.

bowl of lemon dill horseradish sauce

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This post contains affiliate links. Read full disclosure here.

Pistachio Crusted Baked Cod

It is recommended to enjoy seafood two to three times per week. The keyword enjoy – don’t keep making the same recipe over and over again. Try this Pistachio Crusted Baked Cod.

Pistachio Crusted Baked Cod on a baking sheet

Too many times I hear consumers they only eat fish when they are out to eat because they don’t know how to cook it at home. Fish and seafood are some of the simplest proteins to cook. It’s quick, quite forgiving, and there are so many different flavor combinations to pair with.

Why you should make this Pistachio Crusted Baked Cod recipe

I may be biased, but this Pistachio Crusted Baked Cod is delicious! Plus, the simplicity of it is great for getting dinner on the table during busy nights. The added bonus – eating more fish includes a lot of health benefits.

Why dietitians want you to eat more seafood

Fish literally saves lives. Eating seafood two to three times per week reduced the risk of death from any health-related cause by 17 percent.

Seafood sits among the highest- quality proteins (like eggs, meats, poultry, and dairy) and offers additional health benefits. It can reduce the risk of heart disease, can help during pregnancy to help the child develop a healthy brain, and improve memory and sharpness.

Health benefits of cod

Cod is the leanest protein available, meaning the protein to calorie ratio beats out any other food.

Cod is a low fat flaky white meat fish that is a good source of protein, phosphorus, niacin, and Vitamin B-12. An individual 100 g (raw) portion of cod has less than 90 calories, less than one gram of fat, and 17 grams of protein.

pistachio crusted cod with spinach and orzo on a white plate

Tips for baking fish

Medium-to-fatty fish with a firmer texture and richer flavor (like cod, salmon, or swordfish) are perfect grilling, baking or broiling because they can withstand the heat.⁠

Lean, mild-flavored fish with tender, white or pale flesh, such as sea bass, flounder or grouper are usually delicate, so this cooking method works well.⁠

When do you know when fish is done?

Many types of fish are delicate and tender, so you want to avoid overcooking them. The best way to tell if a fish is done is by testing it with a fork. Insert the fork at an angle, at the thickest point, and twist gently. The fish will flake easily when it’s done, and it will lose its translucent or raw appearance.⁠

Pistachio Crusted Baked Cod on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Using pistachios as the crust

Poor pistachios. I feel like they are a totally underrated nut. Pistachios are versatile in the kitchen and just as many nuts can be used with both sweet and savory applications. The caution for using nuts as a crust is they have a tendency to burn. Since the cooking process for fish is usually shorter and this Pistachio Crusted Baked Cod recipe is baked vs. seared, it will not burn.

Health benefits of pistachios

The green and red-purple hues in pistachios come from antioxidants. Pistachios are known for their fiber and protein content. Nearly 90% of the fat in pistachios are from heart-healthy (good-for-you) fats.

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piece of pistachio crusted baked cod with orzo and spinach

Pistachio Crusted Baked Cod

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 14
  • Total Time: 24 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: seafood
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: american

Scale

Ingredients

4 cod fillets (about 6 ounces each), or other firm white fish
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup whole-grain Panko breadcrumb
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon olive oil


Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place cod on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the cod fillets with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

In a food processor, pulse pistachios, panko, garlic, and remaining salt, for about 10-15 seconds until a crumbly texture is reached.

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, mustard, and lemon zest. Using a pastry brush or mini spatula, evenly spread the yogurt mixture in top of each fillet. Evenly, gently press the pistachio mixture on top. Drizzle olive oil over the fillets. (Alternatively use and olive oil cooking spray.

Bake until fish is opaque throughout, approximately 12 to 14 minutes.


Keywords: cod, pistachio, fish, dinner

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Sources:
https://www.seafoodnutrition.org/
https://www.seafoodhealthfacts.org/

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Blueberry Chia Jam

This Blueberry Chia Jam has now become a staple in my refrigerator. With just four simple ingredients you have a delicious and flavorful jam without excess sugar. Mix and match or combine different berries for a variety of flavor combinations.

Blueberry Chia Jam in a small mason jar with a wooden spoon

HOW TO MAKE CHIA JAM

You might see a few variations of chia jam recipes floating around the internet, but after testing this recipe a few times, here are some tips I’ve gathered.

STOVETOP METHOD

Simply heat frozen berries and water over low-medium heat and gently simmer for the berries to defrost and their natural sugars begin to breakdown. Avoid using high heat as the berries will not defrost evenly and the natural sugars of the berries will scorch the bottom of your pan.

Using a potato masher or the back of a fork, mash the blueberries so they burst. The jam may look still very liquidy at this point. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, chia seeds, and sweetener, if using. The chia seeds thicken the jam as it rests and begins to cool.

MASHED VS. BLENDED

Simply leave the jam as is, mashed and chia seeds fully intact if you enjoy the texture and a chunkier jam. Or opt for a smoother consistency and pulse in a food processor or blender until you reach the desired consistency.

Blueberry Chia Jam on a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter

HEALTH BENEFITS OF WILD BLUEBERRIES

All blueberries are not alike! By nature, wild ones have a more intense flavor, deeper blue color, and 2x the antioxidants than their regular cultivated blueberries.

Ever wonder why you can only find wild blueberries in the frozen department? Wild Blueberries are frozen fresh within 24 hours of harvest when their flavor and antioxidant goodness are at their peak. In fact, tiny, potent wild ones contain less water than regular blueberries, so they freeze better than ordinary, larger blueberries.

FLAVOR VARIATIONS

Utilize this recipe as the base and mix and match with other berries or berry combinations. Try a mixed berry combination using blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries or go for a bold combination of a mixture of cherries and blackberries. Thinking about going tropical and using pineapple or mango? I would recommend using white chia seeds vs. black chia seeds.

ADJUST FOR SWEETNESS

This is a much lower sugar jam than those found on the grocery store shelves. Highlighting the fruits natural sugars is the star of this recipe, but an optional sweetener can be added in if desired.

Blueberry Chia Jam in a small mason jar

HOW TO USE CHIA JAM

Use this jam anywhere you would typically use any jam or jelly. Spread on toast, top on oatmeal, or swirl into yogurt.

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Small mason jar filled with blueberry jam

Blueberry Chia Jam

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: dip/spread
  • Method: stove top

Description

A few simple ingredients and you can whip up this jam in no time. Mix and match with different berries for a variety of flavors.


Scale

Ingredients

1 cup frozen wild blueberries
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds
optional sweetener: 1 tablespoon maple syrup or sugar


Instructions

  1. Add frozen blueberries to a small saucepan and heat over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the berries have thawed and started to break down, use a fork or potato masher to break them down further. 
  2. Stir in vanilla extract, chia seeds, and sweetener of choice, if using. Remove from heat and allow jam to cool and thicken for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Spoon into a mason jar as is and store in the refrigerator. (Alternative method: Add jam to a food processor or blender and puree until desired consistency is reached. Spoon into a mason jar and store in the refrigerator. 

Notes

Store jam in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Keywords: blueberry chia jam, jam, chia, blueberries, wild blueberries, low sugar

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Tomato Cucumber Salad

With just five simple ingredients, this Tomato Cucumber Salad will become a regular side dish to serve up with any spring or summer recipe.

Tomato Cucumber Salad in a wooden bowl

Why I love this Tomato Cucumber Salad recipe

Who says salads have to start with a bed of lettuce? We’ve chatted before about how salads don’t have to be boring! What I love the most about this recipe is simple its ingredients, taking less than 10 minutes to put together, and can turn into so many new variations. (see below)

Using mini cucumbers is key

While any kind of cucumber can work in this recipe, I urge you to seek our mini cucumbers, because I think it really makes the recipe. No need to peel the skin. The skin of mini cucumbers is tender and delicate. Just simply slice into coins and they are ready to go.

When I develop a recipe, I always think about the perfect bite. When slicing mini cucumbers into a coin, it takes the same shape and size of the cherry tomatoes so you are able to get everything all in one bite. Plus, it’s more time consuming to peel, seed, and quarter a regular cucumber.

Recipe Tip

If you are using a conventional cucumber, I recommend removing the seeds. Why? Because they are bitter and don’t want any bitterness added to the dish. For a conventional cucumber, peel, scoop out the seeds, slice and cut in quarters for this recipe.
For other cooking tips, go here.

Tomato Cucumber Salad in a wooden bowl

How to make this Tomato Cucumber Salad

  1. Chop vegetables.
  2. Whisk together dressing.
  3. Toss together.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
    It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Storage Tip

Keep this Tomato Cucumber Salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Tomato Cucumber Salad in a wooden bowl

Variations

Additions

Chickpeas: Drain and rinse a can or two of chickpeas and add to the mixture. This will add different textures, plus a good source of plant-based proteins

Feta cheese: I love feta cheese. Hold off on seasoning with salt and pepper at the end after tasting with the feta cheese. Feta cheese will add salt to the dish, so maybe a little sprinkle of pepper will be fine. Also, if making this dish in advance, add feta just before serving.

Red onions: The key is to thinly slice red onions, so they don’t overpower the whole dish. If you are looking for something a little sweeter or more tang, try adding my Quick Pickled Onions.

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baby cucumbers with cherry tomatoes in a wooden bowl

Tomato Cucumber Salad

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Total Time: 10
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: salad
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Light and refreshing salad to compliment any spring or summer dish. 


Scale

Ingredients

3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
8 mini cucumbers, sliced into coins
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt and ground black pepper, to taste


Instructions

  1. Add cherry tomatoes and cucumbers to a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Drizzle over cucumber and tomatoes. Add basil.
  3. Toss everything to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Notes

Variations:
– Add chickpeas
– Add feta cheese

Keywords: cucumber, tomato, salad, no cook, vegetables, low carb, recipe

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Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad

Ribbon sliced vegetables in an Asian dressing is light and refreshing. This Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad is perfect for warmer weather and also a delicious change from a traditional salad.

Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulieRD - refreshing and light Asian inspired salad. #saladsthatdontsuck #carrot #cucumber #salad #Asiandressing #lowcarb #healthy #recipe

Utilize your vegetable peeler a little more than just removing the skin. No need for a fancy spiralizer. Simply continue to peel using your vegetable peeler to create delicate vegetable ribbons.

What are English Cucumbers?

I specifically used English cucumbers in this recipe. Why? Because English cucumbers (also known as burp-less, seedless, or hothouse cucumbers) taste is less bitter than conventional cucumbers, are milder and almost have a hint of sweetness. You can find them in the produce aisle wrapped in plastic. Conventional cucumbers are waxed protecting their skin, whereas English cucumbers are not and have a thinner more delicate skin that is protected by the wrapping.

Switch it up from your traditional lettuce-based salads and try something new! This quick and easy Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad is perfect to switch up your salad game in the warmer months.

Want to turn it more into a meal? Try adding shrimp on top.

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Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad in a white bowl with a vegetable peeler

Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Total Time: 15
  • Yield: 46 1x
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: Asian

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Ingredients

  • 2 English cucumbers
  • 2 large carrots, peeled 
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots and cucumbers into ribbons. Combine the cucumbers and carrots in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Toss the cucumbers and carrots with the dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.

Keywords: sesame, cucumber, carrot, salad, no cook, side dish, healthy, low carb

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Peanut Butter Oat Bars

These Peanut Butter Oat Bars are soft, chewy, and subtly sweet to add to a balanced breakfast or enjoyed as a snack.

homemade oat bars on a black slate

Dear future children, please do not have a peanut allergy. Your future peanut butter addict’s mom will be very sad. Peanut butter is a staple food in my diet. I can confidently say I enjoy peanut butter pretty much every day.

Did you know?

It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter. (source)

Health benefits of peanut butter

Replacing saturated fat with similar amounts of unsaturated fats may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of dry-roasted peanuts (30 grams) contains 12 grams of unsaturated fat, only two grams of saturated fat, and no trans fat. 

Peanuts are an excellent source of (20% of the Daily Value):

  • Niacin: Niacin is an important B vitamin that helps to convert food to energy, aids with the digestive and nervous system, and helps the skin.
  • Manganese: Manganese is important for processing cholesterol, and nutrients like carbohydrates and protein.
    (source)
homemade snack bars on a black marble slab

Just one bowl, these bars are easy to whip up. Pair with a piece of fruit and/or yogurt for breakfast, or enjoy alone as a snack. If you are peanut butter obsessed like me, I even added a smear of peanut butter on top.

Peanut Butter Oat Bars stacked on top of each other

I kept this Peanut Butter Oat Bars recipe simple, but of course, you can add your own twist. Stir in chocolate chips, some nuts or seeds. I’m even curious to try tahini in place of the peanut butter.

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close up image of peanut butter oat bars

Peanut Butter Oat Bars

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Baked Good
  • Method: Baking

Description

These Peanut Butter Oat Bars are soft, chewy, and subtly sweet to add to a balanced breakfast or enjoyed as a snack.


Scale

Ingredients

1/2 cup natural peanut butter, melted
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 small ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup finely ground flaxseed (see notes)


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, coconut oil, banana, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined.
  3. Stir in cinnamon, rolled oats, and flaxseed, until well combined.
  4. Pour into the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Cool for 15 minutes before slicing into squares. 

Notes

I used Manitoba Milling Co. Smooth Whole-Milled Flaxseed, which is more of a powdery/flour texture. 

Add chocolate chips or nuts, sprinkled on top or folded into the batter, as desired.

Keywords: peanut butter, oats, bars, breakfast, snack, whole grain,

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Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats (+ Freezer-Friendly Tip)

Make mornings easier by meal prepping a batch of Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats for the week and follow a simple freezer-friendly tip to enjoy steel cut oats in just minutes.

steel cut oats in a small white bowl with blueberries and sliced almonds

Who has time to make a fresh batch of steel-cut oats in the morning? If you do, more power to you, but like many, I prefer extra sleep vs. waking up earlier to make breakfast from scratch.

I previously talked about the differences between steel-cut, rolled, and quick oats. Steel-cut oats take the longest to cook. Why? Because the outside layer of the whole grain, the bran, is fully intact. A longer cook time penetrates through the bran creating tender, yet a chewy texture that retains much of its shape even after cooking.

steel cut oats in a metal measuring cup

Instead of spending time each morning making a serving of steel-cut oats meal prep a large batch for the week. Steel-cut oats can easily be made over the stovetop, but I love using the Instant Pot to make steel-cut oats because just add your ingredients, press a few buttons, and done! You don’t have to keep an eye on them, stirring often, to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom of the pot or bubbling over.

steel cut oats in a white bowl with toppings on a marble slab

I prefer to make the batch of steel-cut oats pretty plain because then there is the flexibility to add different toppings to create different flavor combinations. I do enjoy adding a cinnamon stick to the pot and the cinnamon flavor infuses into the oats. (This can easily be done with a few shakes of ground cinnamon too.)

frozen steel cut oatmeal in a jumbo muffin tin

Sometimes the idea of batch cooking can be too repetitive eating the same thing over and over, but instead, utilize this steel-cut oat freezer-friendly tip that can help continue to make steel-cut oats ready in minutes in the morning.

Freezer-Friendly Tip:

After making a batch of these Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats, spray a jumbo muffin tin with cooking spray and scoop about a cup of oats into each muffin tin well. Then add your favorite topping combinations.

Once hardened, dip the bottom of the muffin tin in warm water to help remove the single-serving steel cut oat portions and freeze in a container or bag for later use.

Then, simply add a single-serving portion of oats to a microwave-safe bowl with a few drops of water, and reheat in the microwave.

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Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats in a white bowl topped with blueberries and almonds

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 6
  • Total Time: 11 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Instant Pot

Scale

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups steel cut oats
7 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks (or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)


Instructions

  1. Add steel cut oats, water, and cinnamon sticks to the Instant Pot and stir to combine.
  2. Secure Instant Pot lid and close the vent. Set Instant Pot on the manual setting for 6 minutes.
  3. When Instant Pot beeps, allow the pressure to naturally release for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, discard cinnamon sticks, and stir oats to incorporate any water that has risen to the top.
  5. Serve with your favorite toppings. (Combination recommendation: blueberries, sliced almonds, and honey)

Notes

Leftover oats can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or utilize the freezer-friendly method.

Freezer-Friendly Method:
Spray a jumbo muffin tin with cooking spray and scoop about a cup of oats into each muffin tin well. Then add your favorite topping combinations. Once hardened, dip the bottom of the muffin tin in warm water to help remove the single-serving steel cut oat portions and freeze in a container or bag for later use.

Keywords: oatmeal, Instant Pot, steel cut oats, breakfast, cooking tip, oats

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Sheet Pan Steak and Veggies

Make dinnertime stress-free with this simple Sheet Pan Steak and Veggies recipe.

steak with veggies on a sheet pan

This post is sponsored by the NY Beef Council. Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

March is an exciting month for dietitians, as it is National Nutrition Month. National Nutrition Month® is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign, celebrated each year during the month of March, focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. In years past there was a theme to go along with National Nutrition Month’s initiative.

sheet pan with steak, broccoli, and squash

This year, I’ve teamed up with the NY Beef Council for National Nutrition Month to help make dinnertime less stressful with simple strategies and a delicious recipe.

We all seem busier than ever and dinnertime looks different for everyone. Getting home from long days at work, to juggling kids after school activities, or feeling exhausted and grabbing take out; every night the chore of dinner getting on the table can be stressful.

How can you make nourishing meals more manageable? Sheet pan dinners! Simply make a full dinner all on one pan. Sheet pan meals are great fresh out of the oven, but also really great as leftovers. Cook once, eat twice! Repurpose as is, eat over a whole grain, or enjoy over greens for a robust salad. The possibilities are endless!

sheet pan dinner with steak and veggies

When creating a sheet pan dinner, think about ingredients that will provide energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals. To this end, aim to eat a variety of delicious foods that balance the taste you love with good nutrition.

Beef is part of a satisfying heart-healthy lifestyle. All beef is a natural source of 10 essential nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Research shows that lean beef enjoyed as part of a heart-healthy diet and exercises, can help lower cholesterol, lose weight, and lower blood pressure.

What is “lean” beef?

To be considered lean, a 3.5-oz serving of cooked beef must have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 mg of cholesterol. Look for the word “loin”, “round”, and 95% ground beef in the name when finding a lean cut of beef. A few samples of lean beef cuts are top sirloin steak, strip steak (top loin steak), tenderloin steak, or 95% lean ground beef.

Less stress dinnertime strategies:

Maximize your prep time

What are you more likely to cook with midweek? A head of unwashed broccoli still wrapped from the grocery store or the broccoli that is washed, trimmed, and stored in a produce bag ready to be cooked? I think we all know the answer here.

Create a plan

Look at your week ahead before you go grocery shopping and plan meals for the week. This will alleviate the “what’s for dinner?” question, prevent food waste, which will then in turn save you money.

Acknowledge the chaos

There are days that will just not go according to plan and that’s okay! To really make meals manageable, it’s important to be realistic with what to expect. Unrealistic expectations may set you up for a failed experience before the meal even begins. Plan for sheet pan dinners mid-week when you know you will be short on time.

Enjoy the moment

Whether you are dining solo or with a crowd take that time to enjoy the meal and be in the moment. Enjoy the company or the solidarity without outside distraction. We all need time to disconnect from technology.

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steak & veggies on a sheet pan

Sheet Pan Steak and Veggies

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 16
  • Total Time: 31 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: sheet pan

Description

Make dinnertime stress-free with this simple Sheet Pan Steak and Veggies recipe.


Scale

Ingredients

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
3 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound strip steak


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to broil (500°F). Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot of water, parboil squash for 5 minutes, to slightly soften. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine butternut squash and broccoli. Add 1-tablespoon olive oil, half the garlic, 1-teaspoon of thyme to the vegetables, and salt and pepper, to taste; toss to combine. Add to the baking sheet in an even layer.
  4. Pat steak dry. Add to the baking sheet in between the vegetables. Brush steak with the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil and rub with the remaining ½ teaspoon thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper on both sides.
  5. Place in the oven and broil until steak is browned and charred at the edges; about 6-8 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and flip the steak and toss the veggies. Cook for an additional 6-8 minutes for medium-rare, until an inserted thermometer, reads 145°F.

Notes

Cook time may vary due to the thickness of the steak. Use a digital thermometer to determine doneness.

Keywords: sheet pan, steak, beef, one pan meal, dinner

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References:
Sayer RD, et al. Equivalent reductions in body weight during the Beef WISE Study: Beef’s Role in Weight Improvement, Satisfaction, and Energy. Obes Sci Pract 2017. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/osp4.118/full