02 September 2011

Macho Linguini Caprese

Summer in Portugal hearkens back to a time I... really don't remember.  Ever.  For the first decade of my working life, I counted myself lucky that while I didn't exactly have time for "vacation", I got to travel quite a bit for my job.  That counts, right?

As I pass through my third summer in Portugal, I am finally learning how to blend into Southern Europe in August.  Basically, it is best not to plan on getting anything done.  If you are not off to the beach for the month (why aren't you?), then everyone else is.

Our butcher shop and one of the local groceries are closed until... who knows?  They each forgot to put up a sign.  The bakery that delivers our bread twice a week was closed down for the whole month.  Cafes throughout the tourist district are shuttered up.

And since my main client is a university which (you guessed it) completely shut down their administrative offices for August, I have had an enforced vacation the likes of which I have never experienced.  Even in my high school and college days I had full-time summer jobs.  This was utterly disorienting to someone raised with an American work(aholic) ethic.

So when I wasn't busy feeling guilty about my own sloth, I had time for the summer things I always wanted to do.  One of those things?  Growing balcony vegetables.

Yes, that's right.  I have never before bought a bag of dirt, much less something to put inside it.  I have had the occasional house plant, I guess, but certainly nothing I would make a salad out of.

But this year, with the help of my tiny cleaning lady Joaquina and her hearty seedlings: we have vegetables!

Red tomatoes!  And they aren't all rotted and malformed by the fumes from passing traffic, or anything!

Once our first tomato ripened, I decided to (scrub it thoroughly and then) make a salad to honor it.  I bought some nice olive oil, mozzerella, and fresh basil.  Not very creative, I know-- but why mess with the perfect storm of flavor that is a caprese salad?  Caprese Salad, the perfect August meal.

Then I thought about Bacalhau Boy, and his silly male tendency to want meat with his meals.  Hmmm.  He would probably want some carbs of some kind, too.

Thus it was born: Macho Linguine Caprese.  A dish that made the most of my summer balcony bounty and still satisfied the hearty appetite of a finicky Bacalhau Boy.  It is a rather predictable combination of summer flavors, sure, but the addition of a little spicy sirloin and linguine makes this delicate combination hearty enough for a feast.

(And if you are wondering why it took me so long to post this summer recipe, the answer should be obvious.  Who works on blog posts in August?)

Macho Linguine Caprese
serves 4-6

1/2 pound of whole wheat linguini
1 pound sirloin steak
salt to taste
2 tbsp cracked black pepper
6-8 tomatoes
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
9 ounces (250g) of fresh buffalo mozzarella
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Set a large pot of salted water to boiling, and cook linguini according to package directions.

2. In the meantime, drizzle the steak with about a tablespoon of olive oil, then salt and pepper the steak well on both sides.  On the grill or in a stovetop grill pan, cook the steak to your desired doneness.  (Cooking times vary by thickness.  For a 2 cm thick steak medium will be about 3 minutes, turn the steak, then cook 2 1/2 minutes more.)

3. Remove the steak from the grill or pan and let rest for at least 10 minutes, while you slice the other ingredients.

4. Cut the tomatoes into large chunks.  Cut the mozzarella into small dice. Finely chop the basil.  Toss all of these with the remaining olive oil, and a touch of salt and pepper.

5. When the pasta is done, drain it and rinse under cold water.  When the beef is rested, slice into thin strips.

6. Toss everything together in a big bowl, making sure to distribute the various parts throughout the whole dish.  (Don't forget to tip in the juices from the rested meat!)

7. Serve either warm or at room temperature.


  1. Hello

    I came here to wish a good week.

    A kiss.


  2. wow...sounds delicious n lipsmacking..
    first time here...love ur space..
    nice presentation..
    Am ur happy follower now..:)
    do stop by mine sometime.

    Tasty Appetite