Summer Herbs to Dress Up Your Meat Dishes
Make the most of the season with these herbed sauces and toppings
By: Monica Stockbridge, Frontière Natural Meats
One of the things we love most about summer is the abundance of fresh produce and herbs, many of which make excellent accompaniments to steaks and burgers. Here, we talk about a few ways to dress up your summer meat dishes with seasonal ingredients.
It’s summertime, and we’re loving the long days, the outdoor barbecues and the great produce available this time of year. In fact, one of the things we love most about summer eating is the abundance of fresh vegetables and herbs, many of which make excellent accompaniments to steaks and burgers.
Depending on where you live, your area may have a longer or shorter growing season. However, many different regions produce a variety of delicious greens and herbs. Better yet, it’s easy to grow many herbs right in your yard, or in pots on your patio.
In summer, we crave the easy of fresh, vibrant food that is full of flavor and ready to pick — rather than the slow, low cooking we usually prefer in winter. This time of year, it’s all about staying cool and eating fresh.
When it comes to meat, we love grilling steaks and burgers outside or keeping the oven off in favor of the sous vide method to keep the kitchen cool. Of course, good quality steaks are delicious with just a simple sprinkling of salt and pepper. But a bit of basil, cilantro or other herbs can go a long way to brighten things up and bring new flavors to your plate.
Here are a few ways we love to use summer ingredients to dress up meat dishes.
Basil loves sunny summer days and frequent pruning. Don’t hesitate to pluck the leaves weekly for use in green salads, cocktails and Caprese platters.
When blended with pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and olive oil, basil makes a delightful Italian pesto. You can easily make this at home in a food processor or blender, then keep it in small portions in the freezer for later use.
Try spreading fresh basil pesto atop a beef burger. Add garden tomatoes and top with melted mozzarella cheese, and you’ve got a bright yet savory take on a summer favorite. Pesto also makes a great dipping sauce for grilled steak, or a topping for a breakfast sausage frittata!
Chimichurri with parsley and cilantro
You may have heard of chimichurri — which some people call “Argentinian pesto” due to its South American origins. It’s a loose blend of finely chopped herbs, vinegar and oil traditionally served atop grilled steak. Most recipes include fresh parsley, olive oil, red wine vinegar and chiles, often with fresh cilantro and fresh or dried oregano.
Chimichurri is a great way to make use of your fresh garden parsley. We love the added dimension of cilantro with the acid of red wine vinegar. You can use a food processor as you would with basil pesto, but we enjoy the slower method of finely chopping the herbs and whisking in the vinegar. Check out our recipe for chimichurri here.
Mustard Sauce with Mint
Mint tends to take over its plot in the garden, so unless you need a whole lot of it, mint makes an especially nice potted herb. It’s ideal for cocktails — mojitos, anyone? — and garnishing desserts, but mint can also bring a cooling effect to summer salads and savory meat dishes.
It’s easy to substitute mint for cilantro in a chimichurri recipe. You might even try blending half and half fresh mint with fresh basil in your next pesto recipe. We also like it paired with mustard.
Try blending with honey, vinegar, stone ground mustard, garlic and a splash of olive oil in a food processor. This will present a bit of a thicker, mildly acidic sauce that you can adjust to taste with salt and pepper. It’d be tasty on elk burgers, beef steaks and even grilled vegetables.
When it comes to dressing up your summer meat dishes with something fresh and vibrant, you don’t have to look much beyond your own garden pots — or, in a pinch, your grocery store’s refrigerated herb section.
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