Family Meal

by Chef David Ferguson




Filtering by Tag: Arugula

Grilled Plums, Burrata, Baby Arugula, Shaved Almonds, and Vanilla-Honey Vinaigrette with Reduced Balsamic

Prep Time:  10 mins    Cook Time:  25 mins    Serves:  2

For the uninitiated, burrata is a cream filled mozzarella cheese.  Burrata is a wonderful, fresh ingredient on it’s own, that is exceptional with just some bread and a drizzle of olive oil and salt.  In this salad though, it really stands out with it’s heavenly texture and indulgent creaminess.  To serve; slice each piece in half, exposing the filling. Gently turn each half inside out and plate.  Serving the cheese this way will enable you to cut it with a fork without chasing it all over the plate.

I make a version of this salad in mid to late summer with peaches.  Since it is still April though I used red plums, which are an excellent substitute.  Make sure to heat the grill for at least ten minutes before starting your plums and to clean the grill well with an oiled cloth.  This will ensure high heat and a clean surface so you get proper caramelization on the fruit.  

Reduced balsamic is possibly my favorite condiment.  It’s great on everything from salads to ice cream.  And it’s simple to make.  Simply simmer balsamic vinegar over medium-low heat until it achieves the consistency of a light syrup.  Use a small pot and stir often with a rubber spatula.  Remember the vinegar will thicken more once it cools so do not over reduce or you will get something more akin to molasses in consistency.  If this happens simply whisk in a teaspoon or so of cold water to thin the syrup back out.  


  • 2 red plums; halved and quartered
  • 16 oz fresh burrata; halved
  • 16 oz baby arugula
  • ⅓ cup fresh basil; chopped
  • ⅓ cup fresh mint; whole leaf
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint; chopped
  • ⅓ cup shaved almonds
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup + ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar; reduced
  • Salt to taste


Pour balsamic into a small sauce pot and set over medium low heat.  Simmer balsamic, stirring often, until reduced to a light syrup.  Remove  the pan from heat and let the reduced balsamic cool.  

Preheat your grill with burners on high.  Toss plums in ⅓ cup olive oil so they are well covered.  Place your plums on the grill evenly spaced.  Grill plums 3-4 mins on each side, looking for good grill marks on each side before flipping.  Let plums cool on a wire rack.

In a medium mixing bowl, add in lemon juice, honey, and vanilla extract.  Whisk ingredients until they are well mixed.  Gradually drizzle in olive oil while whisking, then add chopped mint and season lightly with salt to taste.  

In a large mixing bowl, toss together baby arugula, basil, mint, and almonds.  Dress salad before serving on top on plums and burrata, finishing with a drizzle of reduced balsamic.


Skirt Steak, Arugula Salad, Queso Blanco, Red Pepper Coulis, & Chimichurri

Prep Time:  20 mins.    Cook Time:  12 mins.   Serves:  2

Skirt steak is a cut more prized for flavor than tenderness.   Fatter than filet with slightly more steps in preparation, it is not the usual choice for home cooks.  However, it is a great choice to match with the bitter, peppery arugula greens, and the sweetness of roasted bell peppers.

Skirt steak can come with a tough membrane that needs to be removed before cooking.  You can request that your local butcher remove it or you can remove it yourself at home.  If not cooked properly skirt steak can be tough.  A quick pan sear to medium rare or medium is the preferred technique.  Make sure to slice against the grain, as with most steaks, to maximize tenderness.  

I used baby arugula in the salad as I think it has better flavor than the more mature greens.  The only drawback to this is that baby arugula can be a bit stemmy.  While definitely a labor of love, removing the stem from the leaves will give you a nicer product.  


  • 1 lb skirt steak
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 cup baby arugula; stems removed
  • ⅓ cup sweet corn
  • ¼ cup crumbled queso blanco
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic;  chopped and divided
  • ½ shallot; chopped fine
  • ½ shallot; sliced thin into rings
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp olive oil; divided
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place red pepper directly on oven rack and cook 10-15 mins until skin begins to char.  Place pepper in a mixing bowl and cover with a towel.  Set aside.

Place a saute pan over medium heat and add in 1 tbsp olive oil along with chopped shallot and 1 clove chopped garlic.  Saute garlic and shallot for 3-5 minutes.  Once cooked, add the garlic and shallot to a food processor.  Return to the red pepper and remove the skin and seeds.  Add the cleaned pepper to the garlic and shallot in the food processor along with the sherry vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  Process pepper on high until very smooth, then pass mixture through a fine mesh sieve.  Set aside.  

Add ¼ cup olive oil along reserved garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, red pepper flakes and lime juice to a mixing bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  

Place a large skillet over high heat.  Add vegetable oil and heat pan until very hot.  Season skirt steak heavily with salt and pepper before placing in pan.  Cook skirt steak 3-4 minutes on each side before removing from the pan and letting rest 5-10 minutes.

Toss together baby arugula, corn, and sliced shallot in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle salad with olive oil and fresh lime juice then season with salt and pepper.  Serve salad alongside skirt steak, topping with crumbled queso blanco.  Serve chimichurri over steak with red pepper coulis on side.  

Stuffed Pork Loin with Dates & Golden Raisins, Salad of Arugula, Fennel & Blood Orange, with Blood Orange Gastrique

Prep Time:  1 hour    Cook Time:  30 min    Serves: 4

Pork loin is a fantastic protein for its versatility.  It’s also cheap, which is arguably a better quality.  This dish however, is luxurious and would be at home on any fine dining menu. Serve this to impress guests at a dinner party, or as a treat for a weekend dinner with the family.

A note on cooking pork.  Until quite recently, it had been suggested to cook your pork all the way through to 165 degrees.  Anyone who has had a dry pork loin before will know this is overdone.  To the joy of chefs everywhere -who had been insisting on the change for years - recommended temperature has been lowered to 145 degrees.  Since a stuffed roast pork loin is relatively large, resting the pork like a steak will allow it to come up to temperature gradually without risk of overcooking.  I recommend cooking your pork to an internal temperature between 135-140 degrees in  the oven, and allowing it to  rest and finish off the heat   This will produce pork with a slight rose-hue in the middle, but it is most definitely done.  The pork will be far more tender, juicy and flavorful at this temperature, rather than tough and dry.


  • 1 2-3lb pork loin roast - butterflied
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil


  • ½ cup chopped seedless dates
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 large shallot - finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic - minced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 large fennel bulb - sliced thin on mandolin, leaves reserved
  • 2 large blood oranges - skin and pith removed, cut into segments
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • gastrique
  • ½ cup fresh blood orange juice
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ¼ orange blossom honey
  • 3 tbsp chicken stock


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt butter in large sauté pan over medium heat.  When the butter has melted, add in the shallots and garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic has browned and shallots have become translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add dates, raisins, and walnuts to the pan and stir to incorporate all ingredients thoroughly.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until walnuts start to brown and stuffing has become fragrant.  Remove stuffing from heat and add mix to a bowl and set aside.

Lay butterflied pork loin out on your cutting board and season heavily with salt and pepper.   Lay a thin layer of stuffing over the entirety of the pork loin and, beginning at one end, slowly roll up the loin into a tight cylinder and lay seam side down.  Using kitchen twine, tie the roast securely in 1” intervals.  Season the outside heavily with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a large skillet with 3 tbsp vegetable over high heat.  When the pan and oil are hot, sear all sides of the loin until golden brown.  Remove the pork loin from the pan.  Place pork on a lined baking sheet, and roast in the oven  for approximately 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 135-140 degrees.   Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 mins.

Meanwhile, place a small sauce pot over low heat and add honey, vinegar, and blood orange juice.  Allow juice and vinegar to reduce over low heat until the mixture thickens and coats a spoon, about 15 minutes.  Add chicken stock and reduce again, another 3-4 minutes.  Remove gastrique from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before serving.  Assemble salad of arugula, fennel, and blood orange in a large mixing bowl and toss with olive oil.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Slice pork loin diagonally on a bias and serve alongside salad, drizzling salad and pork  with gastrique.  Garnish with fennel leaves.