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Steak Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

Does it feel weird to see a savory recipe up in here?  It feels a little weird to publish one.  If you popped over here from Instagram I was telling you that one of my best friends recently got some pretty bummer news (in her book, anyway) from her doctor:  eat more greens.  She finally consulted a pro with a more wholistic approach about a frustrating and ongoing skin dilemma after exhausting pretty much all over-the-counter options.  Her advice was get rid of the sugar, get rid of the dairy, eat more green.  Pretty life-changing news for someone that can put away half a dozen Bob's donuts in under a few hours and not think twice about it.  Recently she sent me this meme with the caption, "This kale tastes like I'd rather be fat."  It's going to be a long-ish, although not impossible road.  

In an attempt to help ease that transition for her out of the world of white bread and pasta and into the land of lush green (complexion friendly) veg, this is a one-stop-shop post on the almost-daily giant salad that I consume, PLUS how it tends to morph throughout the week and the bases I start with as the seasons change.  You wouldn't believe it with all the sugar flying around over here would you?  

In my kitchen a salad functions like a fresh version of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink casserole.  Meaning that I can generally make a damn delicious bowl of greens with whatever needs to be used up in my fridge and it changes just a little bit almost every time.  But if you're not used to improvising like that it can be helpful to have some solid starting points and go from there.  

In culinary school they taught us the rule of five when making a salad.  Five additions plus protein.  Obviously in cooking there are very few non-negotiable rules but when you're going for making a salad a full-on meal, I like this one.   You want something with substance, you know?  You wanna feel like you actually ate something. And you want some variety and flexibility so you don't feel like you're eating the same thing over and over.  I tooootally get it.  The one in the picture has been on repeat all summer long, the five ingredients being swapped out and changed about from one week to the next depending on what's fresh and what needs to be eaten up.  The combinations below are the bases I'll start with as the seasons begin to change.  They're a springboard from which to experiment so make all the substitutions you want.  One of the most used books on my shelf is called The Flavor Bible.  Organized by ingredient it will give you an exhaustive list of other ingredients that pair well together.  It is a brilliant resource.  Not necessary here by any means.  Salads are, by nature, pretty flexible.  But if you think it'd be helpful and/or you're just beginning to learn what goes well with what, Amazon yourself a copy.  I consult mine alllll the time.  

late summer

Greens: Butter lettuce, little gems,
or whatever's fresh and pretty  
Protein:  Flat iron steak or cooked quinoa
Five: Fresh corn, avocado, sliced peaches
or blueberries, goat cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds
Dressing:  Green Goddess dressing (recipe below)

autumn

Greens: Baby kale
Protein:  Cooked quinoa
Five: Sliced apples, roasted Delicata squash,
chopped crispy bacon, blue cheese, toasted chopped pecans
Dressing:  Balsamic vinaigrette

winter

Greens:  Arugula & endive
Protein: Shredded roast chicken (or chopped crispy bacon or white beans)
Five:  Roasted Brussles sprouts, avocado,
ricotta salata, pomegranate seeds, toasted chopped hazelnuts
Dressing:  Apple cider vinaigrette

 

If you can set aside an hour on Sunday evenings to do a tiny bit of cooking prep, you'll thank yourself all week long.  I do this just so I'm not scrambling after work when I'm already verging on h-angry.  I know you know what I mean.  I'll cook up some quinoa, roast off a sheet pan of vegetables, mix up a dressing or two in a Ball jar, and prep a few days of smoothie.  Then all I have to do when I get home at night is dump everything into a giant bowl (not the smoothie obviously) and collapse onto the couch.  The big stuff is already done.  So that's how we're gonna make this change.  Inspiration.  Know-how.  Setting ourselves up for success. 

Before I forget, 3 quick tips to make your life a little easier and your salad a little tastier.

  1. Get a salad spinner.  If you're rocking a plastic container of greens from Whole Foods, no shame.  Those things feed me all winter.  BUT, when you start foraging in to market fresh and loose greens like chard or kale, a salad spinner makes quick and super light work of washing them.  Which is a must.  The only thing worse than a puddle of water at the bottom of your bowl is dirt in your dinner.  This is my favorite one
  2. Season your greens.  I'm not even sure what show I was watching when I saw Bobby Flay crush a giant pinch of salt over his salad greens before adding all of the garnishes and dressing.  I haven't had cable in 7 years.  It was serendipitous obviously because I tried it and haven't made a salad any differently since.  
  3. Get some good salt.  So about seasoning your greens, this is what finishing salts were made for.  Maldon is my favorite and is available on grocery stores and from specialty retailers alike.  Kosher or table salt won't have the same affect.  

I know it's a cliche but we really are what we eat.  I've said before somewhere before on one of the many blogs I've loved and lost in the past few years that if I had all the money in the world I would move home and just cook for my family.  Taking away their white bread and hot dogs and replacing them with good-for-them things.  Not knowing where to start is one of the biggest setbacks in making any kind of change, I think.   So while to some the process of crafting a crave-worthy salad might be elementary, to others it could be revelatory.  Cooking now comes so naturally to me and it's such a part of everyday life that sometimes I just assume that it comes naturally to everyone else too.  Especially with our food obsessed culture.  I actually very often wonder what the heck I even have to add to it.  You may forget at times too that the things you do professionally and know like the back of your hand aren't necessarily common knowledge.  I couldn't run GCal out of a paper bag.  And I swear I'll never really understand how DropBox works.  But you're reminded when a newbie comes in.  We forget that we started at the beginning once and that others are starting all the time.  So this is for all the "feed yourself well" noobs out there.  Welcome.  You're in good company.  Also, you can do it.


Flatiron Steak with Roasted Tomatoes & Green Goddess Dressing

This salad (or some variation of it) has been our go-to Sunday Supper all summer and it'll work well into the fall.  On weekdays I'll generally go with a meatless version and it's still a substantial meal.  Pull the steak from the fridge and allow it to temper for 30 minutes before you plan to eat.  It'll cook more evenly if it's not freezing cold right from the fridge.

Method

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Toss the tomatoes, spring onions, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Roast for 15 minutes and set aside to cool.  

To make the dressing, whirl all the ingredients in a food processor until evenly combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning adding more salt if necessary.  

Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Season both sides of the steak generously with salt and pepper.  When the skillet just starts to smoke add the butter and two tablespoons of coconut oil.  Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan and add the steak.  Allow it to cook, undisturbed, for two to three minutes or until it easily releases from the pan.  Flip the steak and transfer the skillet to the oven.  Depending on the thickness of the steak it'll go fast and will continue to cook once it's off the heat so keep an eye on it. Check it after 5 minutes by giving it a gentle poke with your finger.  Firmness equals doneness so if you want it medium or medium-rare pull the skillet from the oven while there's still a good amount of squish. Alternatively you can use a thermometer.  You're looking for 140 degrees for medium rare and 155 degrees for medium.  Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent with foil, and allow it to rest (and continue to cook) for 5-10 minutes before slicing while you prep the rest of the ingredients.  

Arrange the spinach on a platter and sprinkle with a generous pinch of sea salt and a few turns of fresh pepper.  Top with cucumber, radish, blue cheese, and avocado.  Thinly slice the steak and transfer to the salad.  Pour any juices over.  Sprinkle with the roasted tomatoes and spring onions and drizzle with dressing.  

Ingredients

1 Flatiron steak
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 spring onions, 1 shallot, or 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Coconut oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large bunch spinach, trimmed and washed
Sea salt
1 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
3-4 french breakfast radishes, thinly sliced
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, thinly sliced

Green Goddess Dressing

1/2 cup sheeps milk yogurt
1/3 cup each loosely packed parsley, dill, basil, mint
1/4 cup mayo or homemade aioli
1 anchovy, rinsed (totally optional)
1 green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
Juice from half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste