white plate with Carne Asada with Corn Salad and Chimichurri Sauce

Carne Asada with Corn Salad & Creamy Chimichurri Sauce

 

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If you’re bored with what you’ve been making for dinner, this carne asada dish will liven things up for you. It’s something I assumed I could only order at a restaurant, and never be able to make on my own. There are a lot of moving parts, but it was seriously not hard. You can make it too…in 28 minutes!  

Note: in this video you will see me making the version of the recipe that takes more than 28 minutes (see below for more info).

CARNE ASADA INGREDIENTS

Because I’m a big dork (and because I was thinking this might be helpful to you), I did some calculations. At first glance, this meal appears to have a lot of ingredients, and I wanted to make that less overwhelming for you. For this meal’s ingredients: 47% is fresh produce, 42 % is shelf-stable items, and the remaining 11% is dairy/meat. Now, I think I have a pretty averagely-stocked kitchen. Of the ingredients for this meal, I had to buy about half. But it wasn’t very expensive because it was largely produce. Hardly anything processed. Most of the shelf-stable things (and also the mayo) I already had at home.

smiling child holding fork over plate of carne asada and vegetables

You can find just about everything at your local grocer. I hadn’t used tajin before, but found that it’s a super common spice (a red chile, seasoning salt) and can be found at almost any store or like everything else, on Amazon. My sister didn’t want to buy a spice she didn’t think she’d use again; so, she just replaced tajin with chili powder. She loved how that tasted.

Skirt steak is preferable, as it’s the standard type of meat for this dish. But in a pinch, you can use flank. It will just take longer to cook.

You have full decision-making over whether you use all or partial fresh ingredients. In this recipe, we have a few ingredients that you can decide on: (1) fresh corn vs frozen corn, (2) fresh citrus vs bottled citrus juices (3) fresh herb bunches vs pre-chopped herbs or tube paste herbs, and (4) fresh garlic vs jarred minced garlic.

ALL ABOUT TIMING!

Okay. For real, I think timing is the trickiest part of making this dish. Carne asada is possible in 28 minutes, but you will be cooking the whole time. And you will have several balls in the air during that time. That’s because you are really making four delicious components at once: carne asada, chimichurri sauce, corn and subsequently, corn salad. Here are some tips based on how much time you really have to cook:

If you have exactly 28 minutes… 

Make the recipe as it. Be sure to buy pre-chopped herbs, and bottled citrus juices (lemon, lime and orange). This will be a bit more expensive than using all fresh produce, but maybe worth it for the time savings. Gourmet Garden makes both dry-chopped and tubed paste for a few different herbs, including cilantro and parsley. This will save you a lot of chopping time. 

Other shortcuts: swap the fresh corn for frozen, and use jarred, minced garlic instead of fresh. While you will be sacrificing some flavor, with frozen corn, you eliminate all the steps of shucking, boiling and cutting (which can be time consuming). As another time saver, my sister swears by using Spice World pre-minced garlic, a jar of which is a staple in her fridge. This will be the most expensive version of the recipe, since you will need to buy more processed/pre-prepped items, but it will be the fastest. 

Hand holding a jar of Spice World squeeze garlic

 

 

If you have more than 28 minutes…

In a perfect world, this is the best version of the recipe. This is actually what I did and it took about 45 minutes. Basically, use all the fresh ingredients you can. Instead of bottled juices, you can juice the citrus fruit yourself. That should be about 1 lemon, 1 clementine, and 4 1/2 limes. Instead of pre-chopped herbs, buy fresh herbs: 1 bunch of cilantro and 1 bunch of parsley. Now, in my opinion, cleaning, de-stemming and chopping the herbs took by far the longest of any task in this recipe. But the flavor difference is sooooo worth it. Just make sure you rinse the herbs properly (I sandwich them in between two paper towels or a towel afterwards to extract excess water). Then use snippers or a chef’s knife to remove the stems, and chop those leaves!

Of course, this also means using fresh garlic too. It’s only 2 cloves, so it takes no time at all. And, finally, definitely use fresh corn. The recipe calls for fresh corn already, but I can’t stress enough how much a difference it makes over frozen corn for a dish like this. Corn is the standout ingredient in this dish, especially because it’s prime season for corn and it’s just such a summer thang. It’s also the featured ingredient in our Handprint Corn on the Cob Craft.

STEPS FOR SUCCESS

In terms of the order of operations, below is what I would recommend. There are some steps that take a while, like having the meat marinate for 10 minutes or boiling the corn. During the wait time for those steps, you can, i.e. make the chimichurri sauce or prep the salad. Some of this order is based on my kitchen. For instance, I needed to start boiling the water for corn right at the beginning because my stove takes a while. But if yours heats on the faster side, then maybe insert that step later. Here is a breakdown of the order I would recommend:

>STEP 1: HEAT WATER FOR CORN

Child watching water boil

>STEP 2: MARINATE THE STEAK

 

 

>STEP 3: PREP THE CORN

large pot filled with boiling water and 2 ears of corn

>STEP 4: MAKE CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

person stirring creamy chimichurri sauce with fork in clear bowl

>STEP 5: PREP THE SALAD

Woman in green shirt tossing bowl of corn, tomatoes and beans

>STEP 6: COOK THE MEAT

grill pan with beef cooking

>STEP 7: PLATE THE DELICIOUSNESS

Hand placing steak on white plate with avocado and corn salad

MODIFY THE CARNE ASADA DISH

As written, this dish is neither vegan nor vegetarian. However, the carne asada is the only ingredient preventing the dish from being vegetarian. The steak could very easily be swapped for tofu or tempeh, which you could marinate in the same way as the steak. You’d probably want to use a much smaller amount, though, than the 1 – 1 1/2 lbs steak. Or you could have the salad on its own, with the delicious chimichurri sauce. In fact, I’ve been eating just the salad leftovers this week.

To make the dish vegan, there are only 3 changes. Replace the meat, swap the mayo for a vegan mayo and ditch the cheese. I have not made a chimichurri sauce with this mayo, but it’s definitely a viable option. Or you could make the chimichurri sauce ‘not creamy’ and just ditch the mayo. That’s a more traditional chimichurri sauce anyway. In lieu of cotija, a great touch would be some sprinkles of nutritional yeast atop the dish. Nutritional yeast makes everything better. Yummmmmmmm.

In terms of other dietary choices and/or restrictions, this dish is naturally gluten free, and only dairy free if you ditch the cheese crumbles.

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have a family cooking session

Worth considering is how this might be the perfect time to invite kids to help out in the kitchen (assuming everyone is healthy and properly washing their hands!). We are all spending so much time together at home these days. So, why not make cooking a family activity?! Not only will cooking together help pass the time, but cooking with your kids has some real educational benefits. For example, cooking with kids can boost self-esteem and foster healthy eating habits.

How kids can help make this CARNE ASADA:

This salad involves many kid-friendly tasks. Here are some ways for your lil’ sous chefs to help out:

  • Gather ingredients! This sounds silly, but your kid can be super helpful just helping you gather up all the ingredients before cooking (cause there are so many!). Shout out some easy ones and put your kid to work.
  • Shucking the corn! This is such a fun task for kids, and it will save you time, for sure. My mom would always sit me in a chair with a brown paper grocery bag to do it over. My niece (pictured here) did it over the kitchen sink. blonde child standing over kitchen sink shucking an ear of corn
  • Cutting tomatoes! Kids can use one of these safe, awesome kids kitchen knives to halve the tomatoes while you are doing other things. My son also sneaks a bunch of tomato snacks while he’s chopping too. Lol. child cutting grape tomatoes on a large cutting board, with a kids kitchen knife

Final Tips To ensure smooth sailing!

Mimi’s Cooking Tips:woman with blonde hair and purple blouse smiling and leaning on kitchen counter

Tips from our in-house expert/Mom...

    🍅 Taste-test the chimichurri sauce. Mimi thought the sauce was too vinegary and a bit too salty. My sister and I thought it was perfect. Whatever your preference, maybe stir in vinegar and salt in small increments and taste as you go, til it’s just right.

    🍅 Use frozen corn (not as good, but we don’t judge)! If you need to save time, do whatcha gotta do.

    🍅 Put your kids to work! Seriously, if you have a kitchen helper that doesn’t need a ton of guidance, they can really help you save time while making this carne asada dish. Most helpful (and doable) tasks: gathering ingredients (before cooking), shucking corn, and cutting tomatoes in half with kitchen knives made for kids.

    OUR “kidify” Tips:child sitting at table unhappy with arms folded

    Have picky eaters? Check out these tips...

      🍅 Separate the parts! This actually wasn’t necessary for both my kids and my sisters’ kids this time (woo-hoo!), but it often is. Instead of stacking the salad, steak, avo slices and drizzling with sauce, just separate them on your kids’ plates (with a little sauce on the side for dipping). It’s really all psychological, but if the kids can see what the food is more clearly, they’ll probably be more likely to eat it.

      🍅 Incorporate the avocado! This is a simple thing that we did. Instead of fanning out the slices of avo, just cut chunks of avocado and mix it into the salad. It don’t always have to be pretty. Lol.

      🍅 Meat matters! Another simple fix: pay attention to how your kids like their meat. We grilled ours to medium rare (which took about 6 mins, with frequent flipping), but that’s not for everybody. You have control over how you want your meat to turn out. However, ours was pretty red; so, I wouldn’t suggest cooking the meat for less than 6 minutes, for sure.

       

      Carne Asada with Corn Salad & Creamy Chimichurri Sauce
      Total Time
      28 mins
       
      Servings: 4
      BUY IT
      MAKE IT
      1. As a very first step, fill a large pot with water and heat to boiling. Move on to other tasks while the water heats.

      2. MARINADE! In a medium bowl, mix together the marinade ingredients: lemon juice, clementine juice, olive oil, 1 of the minced garlic cloves, 1 T of the chopped cilantro, 1 T of the salt, and the tajin. Add meat and immerse in marinade. Let sit for 10 minutes.

      3. CORN PREP! Shuck corn and remove silks. Boil corn for 6-10 minutes. Remove from water with tongs. Once cooled a bit, cut the corn off of the cob. Set aside.

      4. CHIMICHURRI SAUCE! In a small bowl, combine: mayo, 1/2 cup of the lime juice, sherry vinegar, chopped parsley, the remaining 1/2 cup of the chopped cilantro, the remaining minced garlic clove, and 1 1/2 t of the salt. Whisk briefly with a fork until well combined. Set aside.

      5. SALAD! In a medium bowl, combine the corn salad ingredients: corn, black beans, tomatoes, the remaining 1 T of the lime juice, the remaining 1/2 t of the salt, and the black pepper. Slice the avocados and set aside.

      6. MEAT! Heat a grill pan on medium. Spray with cooking spray and use basting brush to spread the oil around, into the nooks. Cook skirt steak altogether for 6 minutes (or more), flipping frequently. Cut meat into strips, cut against the bias (cross-grain).

      PLATE IT

      We recommend all children drink milk with their meal.

       

      Serve 1/2-1 cup of the corn salad. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and fan out a few slices of avocado on top. Add some strips of carne asada and drizzle chimichurri sauce over everything. Yummmmm!

       

      white plate with Carne Asada with Corn Salad and Chimichurri Sauce

       

       

       

      What Can Kids do While Grown-ups Cook?

       

      OTHER 🥩 & 🌽  DISHES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

      🍅 Shrimp with Corn in Creamy Poblano Pepper Sauce

      🍅 Classic Beef Stroganoff

      🍅 Stuffed Bell Peppers with Beefy, Cheesy Yumminess

       

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