lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

perfectly cooked roast beef

I’ve  been having so much fun posting some of my classic back-to-the-basics lately, such as my Summer Garden Gazpacho recipe, my Cucumber Salad recipe, my simple Refrigerated Beets recipe, and my Classic Potato Salad recipe, that I’m considering making it a new category on my blog. It’s always good to have some simple, easy-to-execute recipes in your arsenal; recipes that are versatile and don’t take a gazillion ingredients to prepare.

Adding to my classic recipe collection is this (in my opinion) perfectly-cooked medium rare roast beef. The beauty of this roast is that you don’t need an expensive cut of meat to make it. I’ve done this with top round roasts and bottom round roasts and they’re both delicious when cooked this way.  The roast in my photos below is a small 2 pound bottom round roast, an inexpensive cut but very tender and flavorful when cooked and sliced correctly. The bottom round roast typically has a little more marbling than a top round, so it tends to have better flavor, plus it’s usually cheaper than top round. Score.

You can season this however you like, although salt and pepper at the bare minimum is highly recommended. A little bit of oil rubbed all around helps to keep the edges from drying out in the initial high-heat sear. I love the flavor rosemary adds to this, but all kinds of herbs will work – go with what you love. This works best with a fresh roast, as freezing meat tends to draw out some of the moisture. If you can get a higher-end Black Angus cut, go for it…it’s worth it.

The key to any great roast is a probe thermometer; if you don’t have one, it’s worth your money to invest $15-$20 and have one on hand.  It will more than pay for itself in just a few no-more-over-cooked meals.

Behold a big platter of sliced roast beef.

lola rugula perfectly cooked medium rare roast beef

This is one of my “it’s a technique more than it’s a recipe” posts. Why? Because it really doesn’t matter the size of the roast, what matters is this:

  1. a bit of oil and seasoning rubbed all over
  2. let the meat sit at room temperature for at least an hour, so the roast slow-cooks evenly
  3. an initial sear in a very hot oven
  4. a slow roast at a low heat
  5. a probe thermometer to tell you when it’s done
  6. a long resting period
  7. slicing very thinly against the grain with a sharp knife or meat slicer

bottom round roast beef recipe

These are the instructions for the roast pictured here – again, you can use a top round roast if you’d rather. These cuts don’t typically have a lot of fat on them but if it does, you can trim off any excess. Remember though…the fat keeps the roast from drying out.

  • 1 2 lb. bottom round roast
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary (or 3 tablespoons fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 healthy teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Unwrap the roast, pat it dry and set it inside a large, low-sided roasting pan or on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with oil and then rub the oil and seasonings all over the roast. Let sit about 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 500º

Place roast in oven and roast at high heat for about 12 minutes.

Remove roast from oven, reduce oven temperature to 275º, and insert the probe of the thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the roast. Set the alert temperature to 122º. I don’t insert the probe during the initial searing process, due to most probe thermometers shouldn’t be used in temperatures over 450º.

Let roast slow-roast until the probe thermometer tells you the thickest part of your roast has reached122º.

Remove from oven, cover loosely with a  piece of aluminum foil, and let rest at least 30 minutes. Remove the probe and wipe clean.

Transfer the roast to a platter or cutting board or, using a meat slicer, slice thinly across the grain with a very sharp knife or meat slicer. My trick is to cut it starting at a corner, so you cut a corner off and keep going from there. You can slice it very thinly or shave it, whichever’s your preference.

You now have perfectly cooked, tender, medium rare roast beef. Enjoy it as a dinner, with a bit of horseradish and your choice of sides or pile it onto sandwiches, bruschetta, etc.

This is, seriously, the best deli-style roast beef you can make.

 

Life’s too short to eat over-cooked roast beef. 🙂

If you’re cooking a larger roast, up the sear time to 15 minutes but don’t go any longer than that. The slow roasting is really the key.

So now you know how to cook a top round or bottom round roast to medium rare. Easy, right? Put that slow cooker away!

The other beautiful thing about this recipe is the roast cooks pretty quickly.  You can cook a 2 lb. roast in under an hour and that’s a wonderful thing with a busy schedule.

Are you hungry yet?

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

Asian-inspired Spicy BBQ Meatballs with Rice Noodles and Pickled Veggies

It’s easy to get stuck in a food rut, so I often try to play around with new ideas. This time, I had in mind an Asian-inspired bowl of pasta and meatballs, so to speak, but as a fun dish packed full of flavor. Thai chili  garlic paste adds some serious heat

This dish has layers of flavor, so there are a few separate components here that are going to come together in the end; don’t be daunted by the multiple steps, this is a great Asian-inspired noodle bowl.

lola rugula asian inspired pasta and meatballs

First up are quick-pickled vegetables. These are very basic and easy quick-pickled veggies; you can add a myriad of spices and herbs to these, but this is really all that’s needed to add some brightness to the finished dish. Don’t be afraid to change the veggies up to your liking – cauliflower, zucchini, celery…whatever you like!

easy quick pickled vegetable recipe

  • 4 large scallions, julienned
  • 2 baby sweet peppers, julienned
  • 5 baby carrots, julienned
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and seeds scooped out and discarded, julienned
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Mix all of the ingredients into a small glass dish and stir well to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.

You can scoop out the veggies for this recipe and discard brine or add fresh veggies for another batch of future pickles.

Asian-inspired spicy barbeque sauce recipe

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Thai chili garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1/2 cup water

In a small saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes, or until sauce starts to slightly thicken. In the meantime, make your meatballs.

garlic and ginger meatballs recipe

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 2 large scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 2-inch piece peeled ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil, for frying

Place ground pork in a bowl. Mince together scallions, garlic, and ginger and add to pork. Add sesame oil and stir well to combine. Form into small, 1-inch balls.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and let heat for at least 2 minutes. Add meatballs and brown on all sides, for about 12 minutes total.

Remove from skillet and, using tongs, add them to your hot barbeque sauce.

rice noodles and cilantro

To a medium-size pot of boiling, salted water, add a healthy handful of rice noodles. Stir well and cook at a low boil for about 4 minutes. Drain.

In the meantime, chop up a handful of fresh cilantro for serving

plating (or bowling, actually)

  • Divide the rice noodles into 4 bowls
  • Scoop out a few meatballs and sauce and place on top of noodles
  • Add a spoonful of pickled veggies to the side
  • Sprinkle with fresh cilantro

Serve while noodles and meatballs are hot.

lola rugula garlic and ginger meatballs with asian bbq sauce

I just can’t emphasize enough how bright and full of flavor this is, while still being pretty simple to bring together. If you don’t have mirin, just switch it out with some light, not-too-sweet white wine.

I tried to keep this simple because that’s how I typically roll, but afterward, I thought that some toasted sesame seeds would have been a nice addition to this.

If you just can’t stand cilantro (and I understand that many of you can’t) just add some fresh parsley for that bright finishing, herby touch. Chives or scallions will also work. For the pickled veggies, add what you have on hand – cauliflower, asparagus and even jalapenos (if you need more heat) will all work.  And this is honestly spicy. If you want to take down the heat, just use 1/4 cup of hoisin sauce or plain old barbeque sauce in place of the Thai chili garlic paste. I always tell you to not be afraid to play with your food and here’s a great example of that.  Have fun with your dishes and don’t be afraid to try new things.

If you like this recipe, I bet you’ll also love my Udon Noodle Bowl recipe and my Veggie Spring Rolls recipe.

Enjoy!

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

roasted tomato and garlic soup

I’m continuing my celebration series of summer garden tomato recipes my with roasted tomato and garlic soup. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s very flexible. Looking for an easy roasted gazpacho recipe? This is it. Want a comforting bowl of steamy roasted tomato soup? This is also it. Craving a bowl of steamy AND creamy roasted tomato soup, maybe with a grilled cheese sandwich on the side? Add a little cream to your hot soup and you’re good to go! Versatility is this recipe’s middle name.

If you’ve not been following my recent series of recipes, then check out my classic garden gazpacho recipe, which you can also make gazpacho shooters with. I also shared my golden heirloom gazpacho, made with yellow tomatoes, shallots and turmeric. Remember that both of these also make great gazpacho smoothies, which is a great way to enjoy gazpacho.

lola rugula roasted tomato and garlic soup

roasted tomato and garlic soup recipe (also a roasted gazpacho recipe)

  • 6 lbs. tomatoes, preferably a mix of Roma and heirloom
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and gently smashed, just enough to break each clove open
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into eighths from the root end
  • 1 large poblano pepper, cut in half with stem and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (divided between 2 baking sheets)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided between 2 baking sheets)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Fresh basil, thinly sliced, for serving

Preheat broiler.

Lightly brush 2 large baking sheets with a little of your olive oil.

Remove cores from tomatoes and discard. Cut each tomato in half and lay face up on baking sheets, dividing the tomatoes onto both baking sheets.  Add garlic, onion, and pepper, keeping them towards the same end of one of the baking sheets. These will likely roast faster than the tomatoes and you’ll want to be able to easily remove them.

Drizzle each tray of veggies with the remaining olive oil, dividing it between the 2 baking sheets. Sprinkle each sheet of veggies with kosher salt. Every veggie doesn’t need olive oil or salt on them, just evenly distribute as best as you can. Have a large stockpot ready to place your charred veggies in once they’re done.

Broil the veggies one baking sheet at a time, about 30 minutes or until the veggies are nicely charred. Again, you will probably need to remove the garlic, onion, and pepper before the tomatoes are all charred. Move the tomatoes around and remove them as they char and place them in a large stockpot.

Be sure to add any remaining liquid on your baking sheets to your stockpot.

Repeat with the second baking sheet. Here’s a photo of some of my charred veggies, so you can see how much I char them…

lola rugula roasted tomato soup

Once all of your veggies are nicely charred and added to your stockpot, add the vegetable stock and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until your liquid is reduced by 1/2, about 45 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, carefully puree your mixture until it’s smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a ladle and carefully scoop portions of the soup into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve with slivers of fresh basil on top and some fresh or toasted bread on the side.

For roasted tomato gazpacho, let cool and then refrigerate until well-chilled.

This is a great rustic soup and simple to make. The roasting really brings out the flavor in the tomatoes and other veggies, adding a depth of flavor that you can taste in every spoonful.

lola rugula roasted tomao and veggie gazpacho

How to make cream of roasted tomato soup

If you want a creamy soup, just stir in a little of your choice of heavy cream, half and half, buttermilk, creme fraiche, or plain yogurt – all of these will work here, it just depends on your personal taste. Simple, right?

And, if you want to add a little bit of smokey heat to your soup (or really want a soup that clears up congestion from a cold or the flu), roast a jalapeno or hot pepper with your veggies and add it in.

Another variation on this soup is to add a little turmeric or curry powder to it – this amps up the health benefits and flavor both.

Also, feel free to add a little zucchini and/or fennel to this – both add amazing flavor!

Summer here in Northern Illinois is (sadly) winding down but that doesn’t mean you can’t preserve your summer tomato and veggie harvest.  This soup freezes beautifully and when you pull some out in the dead of winter, you’ll be thankful for that fresh garden tomato flavor.

My other favorite way to preserve my summer tomato harvest is making big batches of homemade marinara sauce and freezing it in batches.

Enjoy!

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

ajvar recipe

One of the beautiful things about growing your own vegetables is that you’re able to grow so many more varieties than what you can find at the supermarket.  Farmer’s markets offer a better variety than the stores but even then, your selection can be limited. One of my favorite places to discover new vegetables is Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds. They always have an incredible variety of heirloom veggies and I’ve had very good results with most of their seeds.

This year, I discovered ajvarski peppers which, after a bit of online searching, appear to be bulls horn peppers, a variety of peppers traditionally used in making ajvar (pronounced AY-vahr).

lola rugula ajvar peppers

Ajvar is a Serbian roasted red pepper sauce (I read where some call it Serbian Salsa).  Basically, it’s a roasted red pepper sauce with eggplant, garlic, vinegar, and oil added. It’s great on fresh bread, toasted bread and crackers, so it’s an easy appetizer recipe to make.

 I started my peppers inside in February and they were about 10-inch tall plants when they went into my garden in early May. They’ve done well in my home garden, taking a while to turn red as most colored peppers do but they’re reaching their stride here in zone 5 in September.  I currently have multiple peppers turning red on my plants, even though they were a bit slow-going at first.

These are gorgeous peppers with a thick skin and fragrant smell, especially when roasting. I’m not exaggerating on this – these are really, really fragrant peppers.

lola rugula ajvar bulls horn peppers

If you want to speed up the ripening of colored peppers, simply put them in a paper bag with a few ripe tomatoes and seal the bag with a clip. Leave at room temperature until fully ripened. Ideally, the peppers should be starting to turn already and then they’ll take anywhere from 3 to 7 days to ripen. Never refrigerate them until they’re ripe – refrigeration will stop the ripening process immediately. I have great luck with quick-ripening my peppers this way. If you’re a home gardener, you know how long it can take (and how much plant energy it takes) to ripen peppers on the plant.

I admit my ajvar here is a small batch recipe, as I only had 3 peppers to start and make this with. As it turned out though, 3 peppers were just enough to make a good-sized appetizer plate for Sunday football for two. This recipe made enough ajvar to fully pack one ramekin and help us devour a small loaf of French bread. 🙂 In all, this makes about 1 healthy cup of ajvar.

lola rugula ajvar

homemade ajvar recipe

  • 3 red bullhorn or bell peppers
  • 1/3 large eggplant, cut in half
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, gently smashed
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon for brushing eggplant
  • 4 oz. feta cheese
  • 1 small loaf French bread, sliced (I toasted mine)

Preheat broiler. Place peppers and eggplant on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Brush the eggplant on both sides with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Broil, turning occasionally until peppers and eggplant are well charred on all sides. The eggplant will likely cook the fastest and, if so, remove it to a plate and let cool until the peppers are done cooking.

When the peppers are well charred, use a pair of tongs to pop them into a paper bag, roll the bag to seal and let the peppers rest at least 10 minutes. What this does is steams the skins from the peppers, making the skins easier to remove. Remove the skins, stems, and seeds and discard. (I add mine to our compost bin)

In the meantime, scoop out the innards of the eggplant and place it in a food processor. Discard (or compost) the skin.

Add the garlic, vinegar and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the processor.

Add the peeled peppers.

Pulse until well-blended but still a bit coarse – it should still have a little texture to it. If too dry, add more olive oil until a smooth, spreadable mixture is formed.

Serve with feta cheese and fresh or toasted bread (or crackers).

lola rugula ajvar 2

This is so, so good! Very garlicky and the vinegar adds a brightness and tang to it, while the olive oil smooths it all out.

If red bell peppers are all you can find, by all means, use them. You can also add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes if you want a little spice to your ajvar.

Of course, you can also char the peppers and eggplant on the grill; whichever method is easiest and most convenient for you.

There’s something just so rustic and satisfying about schmearing roasted deliciousness on bread and devouring it. Ajvar does not disappoint. Make yourself a batch and dig in.

Enjoy!

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

grilled butterflied leg of lamb

I hope everyone had a nice Labor Day weekend. I, unfortunately, was not feeling my best at all over the long holiday weekend, as I’ve come down with some sort of summer flu bug which seems to be getting worse instead of better as the days pass. I was able to get some things done and still relax and attempt to recuperate a bit but I’ll admit it’s been slow-going. I had this wonderful butterflied leg of lamb planned for the grill this holiday and still pulled it off beautifully somehow, even with as rotten as I’ve been feeling.

We are lamb lovers in my house and easy lamb recipes are one of my specialties. If you follow my blog, you know I’m not big on complicated dishes that require hours of preparation, 50 million pans and a bunch of obscure ingredients. Oh, I have my moments where things get a little more involved but honestly, mostly we just want to eat great food that doesn’t take a degree to prepare, right?

My Lamb and Oregano Shoulder Chops recipe is one of my most popular recipes on Pinterest and that’s because it’s easy and delicious. Oh, and lamb shoulder chops are cheap compared to other cuts of lamb, so….bonus.

I’ve also shared my Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Oregano, Mint and Lemon recipe, which is always an easy lamb recipe for the grill. Loin chops are on the more expensive side but they’re great if you’re looking for a recipe for a  special occasion or maybe a romantic dinner.

The beauty of butterflied leg of lamb is that it’s a big cut of meat that’s been removed from the bone and splayed out into a cut that’s easy and fast to grill. I was lucky enough this time to find a roast that weighed in at only 2.5 lbs. but this cut typically comes in around 3-5 lbs. When all’s said and done though, you will never go wrong with smothering any cut of lamb with garlic, herbs, oil and a bit of lemon juice or vinegar. If you’re looking for ways to reduce the “gaminess” in lamb, lemon and/or vinegar is your friend. 

Anyway, enough with me blathering on…let’s get to the butterflied leg of lamb on the grill, shall we?

lola rugula grilled butterflied leg of lamb

grilled butterflied leg of lamb with garlic and herbs recipe

  • 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2.5 lb butterflied leg of lamb, patted dry and excess fat removed. I always keep a thin layer of fat on the roast, to prevent it from drying out while cooking.

In a bowl, mix everything except the lamb together and mash together well. Coat the lamb well on both sides with the marinade and place lamb in a  large dish. Spoon any remaining marinade over the lamb, cover well, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Remove lamb roast from refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling.

Preheat grill to 425° for at least 15 minutes.

Place lamb roast on the grill, fat side down. Cover grill and cook for about 15 minutes. Flip lamb and cook for another 10 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 130° for medium to medium rare. Remove from grill, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

I have to confess this one got away from me due to my not feeling well and a slower than normal reaction time, so it was at 135° before I caught it and removed it from the grill. It was just a bit more done than we typically like, but the garlicky-herb goodness made up for it.

lola rugula butterflied leg of lamb grilled

Because of the way this cut is typically done, there will be thinner pieces that cook more quickly and thicker pieces that cook more slowly. I like to temp in the thickest part of the cut and adjust my time accordingly.  You can see examples of how the doneness can vary depending on the thicknesses in the photo above.

The garlic, fresh herbs and lemon are all natural accompianments to lamb, so you can’t go wrong with any of them. Add in the beauftiful smokey char you get from cooking on the grill and I promise that your friends and family will love this.

And, if you’re wondering what to make with any leftover lamb you might have, my Easy Lamb Stew recipe is your answer.

lola rugula grilled butterflied leg of lamb with garlic and herbs

Are you a fan of lamb? What’s your favorite cut and way to prepare it?

I’d love to hear what was on your Labor Day Weekend menu!

lola rugula deli style medium rare roast beef

Golden Heirloom Gazpacho

My summer celebration of garden tomatoes continues with this gorgeous golden gazpacho recipe. If you’re a home gardener or have just been overly ambitious at your local farmer’s market and wonder what to do with a lot of tomatoes, gazpacho is an easy and delicious solution.  I just recently posted my classic garden gazpacho recipe and this is a twist on that recipe using small golden heirloom cherry tomatoes.

The tomatoes I used here are Blue Gold Berry Tomatoes that I ordered from Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds. They’re a very prolific plant, bearing beautiful fruit early and often throughout the growing season.

lola rugula golden gazpacho

These are not a super-sweet cherry tomato, which to me is perfect for a well-balanced gazpacho. And, unlike my classic garden gazpacho, here I keep everything a little bit lighter and brighter here with white wine vinegar, lemon juice and shallots.

lola rugula garden gazpacho

golden gazpacho recipe with heirloom cherry tomatoes

  • 2 lbs. yellow or gold cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium clove of garlic
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stems and seeds removed and cut into quarters
  • 1 medium cucumber (again, I use pickling cucumbers because it’s what I grow and have on hand), ends removed, peeled and seeds scooped out and discarded
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 1/2 medium jalapeno (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Diced cherry tomatoes, minced chives and/or minced parsley for garnish

In a blender or food processor place everything EXCEPT half of the tomatoes and blend extremely well.  Using a ladle, scoop out 3/4 of the contents and pour through a mesh sieve into a large bowl. Add remaining tomatoes and puree again until well blended. Strain all but a cup of the remaining gazpacho into your bowl. Add the final cup of the pureed, unstrained tomato mixture to your bowl and stir well.  Chill well.

Garnish with diced tomatoes, minced chives, and minced parsley before serving.

I prefer to leave a cup of it unstrained, as it adds texture (and good fiber!) to your final gazpacho. It’s completely personal taste as to whether you strain all, a portion of, or none of the final mixture.

Also, you can do this in either a blender or a food processor or even with an immersion blender but, in the end, you just want it to be as finely blended as you can without completely liquefying the entire batch. A little texture is a good thing where gazpacho is involved.

lola rugula golden gazpacho with cherry tomatoes

As with my classic gazpacho recipe, I like adding some jalapeno for a little kick. If adding, be sure to taste your jalapeno first so you can anticipate the heat level in the finished gazpacho. You can always add a little more to the second puree but you can’t remove it once it’s there, if you know what I mean. 🙂 The jalapenos I grow are much, much hotter than the mass-produced variety I buy at the store, so you always have to be careful in how much you use.

The lemon juice and ground turmeric is key to giving this brightness and depth. A little bit of black pepper works too, but again, you have to play a bit with it and see what you like.

Also, as I mentioned in my classic gazpacho recipe, I occasionally enjoy mine as a gazpacho smoothie and just drink it from a glass. It’s seriously like a glass of goodness because of all the antioxidants packed into it.

lola rugula easy gazpacho with heirloom cherry tomatoes

If you’re overloaded with summer tomatoes and are wondering what else to make with them, my fried green tomatoes recipe is another delicious solution.

Craving a good, easy pasta recipe? Try my fresh no-cook tomato sauce! It’s not only quick and easy but it’s also incredibly delicious and satisfying.

Are you overloaded with summer tomatoes? I’d love to hear what you do to enjoy them. And, as I always say, don’t be afraid to play with your food!

Wishing you all a wonderful, healthy and well-nourished weekend. Enjoy!