Sides You Wouldn’t Expect: Flatiron Steak with Mashed Cauliflower and Roasted Carrots

I have felt like we’re in a dinner rut.  Seems we have chicken or beef with rice or potatoes day in and day out.  The unfortunate thing is my husband’s diet is pretty limited, so it is difficult to come up with fun new things to eat that have no dairy, no gluten, and no corn products.


The no corn thing is what kills me.  It’s actually pretty easy to go gluten free.  And it really isn’t too terribly hard to do dairy free.  But good luck with the corn-free part because corn products of some sort are in pretty much everything these days.   Now, try avoiding ALL THREE.  I’ve had to get creative over the past few years and while Chip doesn’t mind eating the same thing day in and day out, I like variety.

Last weekend I was craving something with southwestern flavors, but was frankly tired of rice (we eat a lot of rice) so my standard burrito bowls were out.  I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge, and while I have done riced cauliflower a few times, I just wasn’t feeling it.  I wanted something to go with the flatiron steak I purchased the day before, and that’s when I decided to mash the cauliflower.  I thought if I added the right seasonings to it, I could give it that southwestern flavor as well.  I decided to marinate my flatiron steak in some tequila and lime juice, and sticking with the theme, I had to figure out what to do with the carrots.  I love simple, honey roasted carrots and they always go well with beef, adding color and a mild, sweet flavor.  I’ve never served up carrots with a southwestern inspired meal, but I tossed them in some cilantro and they went perfectly with everything else.

Flatiron steak, along with skirt steak, can be quite tough if you don’t prepare it correctly.  First, you have to marinade it.  Depending on what flavor you’re going for, choose ingredients that are known for being natural meat tenderizers: wine, citrus juices, vinegars, ginger, beer, cola, tomato sauces, coffee, buttermilk, and yogurt are some of the easiest ingredients to use in marinades.  Keep in mind that you can go too long with marinating, especially if you are using juices high in acid like pineapple and orange.  Marinating too long will give your meat a weird, spongy texture.  Adding oil to the marinade helps prevent this from happening.

Tequila Lime Marinade for Flatiron Steak
Tequila Lime Marinade for Flatiron Steak

Second, cook it hot and fast.  If you are cooking inside on a cooktop, sear each side over high heat in a heavy, oven proof pan like a cast iron skillet, then finish it in a hot oven.  If you are cooking it outside on the grill, get that grill nice and hot to sear each side, then move to the side of the grill and finish with indirect heat.

img_2623Finally, it’s all how you slice it.  Let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it.  Always slice against the grain, and slice in nice, thin strips for maximum tenderness.


Tequila Lime Flatiron Steak

Approximately 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. flatiron steak
Coarse sea salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 ounce tequila
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp lime zest
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp honey

Pat the steak dry, and pierce it several times on both sides with a fork.  Place into a shallow dish and sprinkle the steak with salt, pepper, and the spices – no need to measure, just coat the surface of the steak with a fair amount of seasoning without going overboard.  In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients, and pour over the steak.  Cover, and place in the refrigerator, allowing to marinate for 3-4 hours, turning a couple times so both sides get equal treatment.

Allow the meat to come to room temperature before cooking.  Preheat the oven to 425 (400 if convection). Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet.  Remove the steak from the marinade (discarding it), and sear the meat on high for 2 minutes per side (you may need to cut the steak in half for it to fit in your skillet,  depending on size).  Remove from heat and place the pan in the oven to finish cooking for 8 minutes.  Allow to rest for 3 minutes, then slice thinly across the grain.  Serve with sliced avocado, chopped cilantro and lime (and some jalapenos if you want to spice it up!).

Cumin Spiced Cauliflower Mash

1 head of cauliflower, cut into large pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup dairy free yogurt alternative (or sour cream if you aren’t DF)
1 green onion, sliced

Boil the cauliflower in a large pot of salted water until tender.  Drain, and place into a large bowl and mash.  Stir in the olive oil and seasonings, then add the dairy free yogurt and mix with an electric mixer.  Adjust seasonings to taste, and stir in the green onion.

Honey Roasted Cilantro Carrots

5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into large 2″ pieces
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
coarse sea salt
fresh chopped cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.  Arrange the carrots on the cookie sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and honey.  Sprinkle with sea salt and roast for 15 – 20 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro.

Prep Order:

  1. Prepare the marinade first, at least 3 hours in advance
  2. A half-hour before dinner, remove the meat from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature; boil the cauliflower
  3. Prepare the carrots and place in the pre-heated oven
  4. Drain and mash the cauliflower, season, and keep warm
  5. Sear the steak, finish in oven
  6. Steak and carrots should finish around the same time
  7. Let the steak rest, then slice
  8. Plate the food!

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