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Filets Mignons with Pesto and Grilled Tomatoes

Filets Mignons with Pesto and Grilled Tomatoes
These steaks are also wonderful stuffed with prepared tapenade, a Provençal olive-anchovy-caper condiment, or with caponata, a Sicilian sweet-and-sour eggplant relish. The pesto recipe here makes more than you will need, but the extra can be refrigerated or frozen. If you like, thin the leftover pesto with a little white wine and brush it on chicken just as it comes off the grill. A simple baby lettuce salad alongside the filets is all you need to complete the meal.

Ingredients:

For the basil pesto:

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 Tbs. pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 6 filets mignons, each 5 to 6 oz. and about
     1 1/2 inches thick
  • 6 toothpicks, soaked in water for 10 minutes and
     drained (optional)
  • 6 slices beefsteak tomato, each about 1/2 inch
     thick
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

To make the pesto, engage the motor of a food processor and drop the garlic cloves through the feed tube. When the garlic is minced, turn off the motor and add the basil and pine nuts. Process until finely chopped. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream to make a smooth, thick paste. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl and stir in the cheese by hand. You will have about 1 cup pesto. Measure 6 Tbs. for stuffing the steaks; reserve the remainder for another use.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat. Oil the grill rack.

Using a small, sharp knife, make a horizontal cut into one side of each steak, forming a pocket almost to the edges of the steak; take care not to cut all the way through. Using a small spoon, stuff 1 Tbs. of the pesto into each pocket. If necessary, secure the pocket with toothpicks. Brush both sides of the steaks and tomato slices with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Grill the steaks over the hottest part of a charcoal fire or directly over the heat elements of a gas grill, turning once, until nicely charred and cooked to your liking, 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare.

While the steaks are cooking, place the tomatoes at the edges of a charcoal grill where the heat is less intense, or on an area of a gas grill with lower heat. Grill the tomato slices, turning once with a spatula, until just softened and lightly charred, 2 to 4 minutes per side.

Transfer the steaks to individual plates, placing each steak on or next to a tomato slice. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Grilling, by Denis Kelly, Melanie Barnard, Barbara Grunes & Michael McLaughlin (Oxmoor House, 2003).