Stop and eat the sandwiches. Someone asked me how I come up with ideas for Tasty Pursuits. It is a combination of coming up with challenges to push myself (such as the Smoker Box Challenge) and taking inspiration from everything I see, smell and taste…including a quick bite for lunch at Fresh & Co.
Ty, from Fresh & Co., and I were enjoying a sunny summer afternoon eating lunch at their 7th Avenue and 30th Street location. There was spacious seating inside the bright and airy restaurant, but I loved having the option to soak up some rays and people watch at the outdoor seating area. As I munched on my Grilled Steak and Fontina Panini Melt, Ty and I chatted about Fresh & Co.’s mission to provide fresh and healthy dishes that are full of flavor. During our conversation we came up with the idea to create a Tasty Pursuits meal with each dish inspired from a Fresh & Co. sandwich. I have to admit that it wasn’t too difficult because Fresh & Co. has so many tempting flavors such as the Coconut Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich and the Grilled Chicken Funghi Panini Melt.
Over the next two weeks both Tasty Pursuits and Fresh & Co. will be posting the recipes for the meal that I created:
Appetizer: Steak Crisps with Caper Aioli inspired by the Grilled Steak and Fontina Crisp Panini Melt
Entrée: Lemon Dill Roasted Chicken inspired by the Lemon Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Side: Greek Feta Couscous inspired by the Greek Feta & Tomato Baguette Sandwich
I am also playing around with a Fresh & Co. sandwich-inspired dessert, which you may see in a future collaboration!
For the Steak Crisps with Caper Aioli, I loved the combination of sweet caramelized onions with the meaty flavor of steak; however, the most interesting component was the caper aioli. The tangy capers added brightness to create a hearty, yet not to heavy, appetizer. Without the panini melt inspiration, I may never have thought of creating a caper aioli. The fontina cheese added another delicious savory layer to the Fresh & Co. panini melt, but it would have made my bruschetta-like interpretation a bit too complex so I left it out. That is the great thing about being inspired, you have free rein to experiment and make a dish your own.
We can jumpstart our creativity by looking for inspiration everywhere. Consider why you liked the flavors and textures together, re-arrange them or swap some of them with another similar ingredient. I would love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment and tell me about some dishes you have tried that you would like to use as inspiration…from dishes at three star restaurants, food carts, candies, bakeries and of course, Fresh & Co. And check out the Fresh & Co. blog this Thursday for the Lemon Dill Roasted Chicken recipe.
Photo courtesy of Fresh & Co.
Steak Crisps with Caper Aioli Appetizer
1/2 teaspoon capers, drained and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 large onion, thinly sliced into long strips
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 a baguette, sliced between 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick on a bias
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 pound trimmed boneless sirloin steak, about 1 1/2 inches thick
1 tablespoon butter
In a medium frying pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions and the brown sugar. Continue to cook over low heat for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring continuously. Set aside.
Turn on the oven broiler. Spread the baguette slices on a pan and bake for 1 minute on each side until golden brown. Set aside.
Pat the steak dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
In a large frying pan with an oven-safe handle, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat.
Add the steak and sear each side for 1 minute until it is well-browned.
Place the pat of butter on top of the steak and transfer the pan to the broiler.
Broil for 2 minutes, flip the steak and broil the other side for 1 1/2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, and transfer the steak to a plate. Loosely cover the steak with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes.
Mix together all of the caper aioli ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Slice the steak at a bias into 1/4″ strips. Spread aioli over each baguette slice, top with a slice of steak then with some caramelized onions.