Ceasar Dill Pickle Pasta Salad

I had the freedom to experiment a bit on the 4th of July with some of the recipe trends I’ve seen floating around social media lately. A couple of these ideas that have sounded good to my family are the pasta salad with dill pickles and the one with ceasar salad. Since I didn’t have everything to make either complete recipe, I combined elements and used what I already had. I think the result was pretty tasty.

Ingredients:

1 pound of cooked pasta, such as elbow macaroni or shells

1 bottle of ceasar salad dressing

1 cup of dill pickle juice

1 cup of chopped dill pickles

1 small chopped red onion

1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Add the warm, drained cooked pasta to the pickle juice and allow to soak approximately 10 minutes before stirring in the ceasar dressing. Add salt, pepper, onion, and dill pickle pieces. Blend together carefully and refrigerate before serving.

Optional: add freshly grated parmesan cheese and/or olives.

TOSI Challenge: Flat Iron Steak Sandwich & Fries

Individual flat iron steaks from Dierks Farms and fresh sourdough bread baked by Scratch Brewing Company, both of Ava, were among groceries I got this past Saturday at the Carbondale Community Farmer’s Market. This pair of ingredients seemed like a great starting point for a TOSI (Taste Of Southern Illinois) Challenge creation.

For the steaks, I used a quick marinade of Ponzu, grapeseed oil, salt, pepper and a few drops of red wine vinegar. Then I applied some Cactus Pete’s Ultimate Steak House Rub, made in Buckner, that I found at Arnold’s Market in Carbondale.

I grilled thick slices of the sourdough bread in a bit of butter on my George Foreman grill. I also grilled some onions and sweet mini pepper strips with a few shiitake mushrooms from Fly Away Family Farms of Makanda. Each side of bread was smeared with basil pesto. After grilling the steaks and allowing them to rest for the juices to redistribute, they were sliced against the grain. I added a slice of Swiss cheese for flavor.

The oven fries were pretty simple but tasty. I cut scrubbed Russett potatoes into thick fries and coated them with grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, and paprika before baking in a single layer at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, turning once. For the fry dipping sauce, I mixed a bit of mayonnaise with ketchup and added some chopped fresh herbs. I used basil and parsley from my kitchen window with some dill from All Seasons Farm of Cobden. The ivrn fries were the perfect compliment to the flat iron steak sandwich.