This steak salad is built, literally and figuratively, on layers of flavor and texture. The grilled meat sits atop a wet and messy salad of summer tomatoes (aren't they just glorious? this salad really shows them off), avocado and lettuce that wilts, just slightly, in an onion-bacon-poblano vinaigrette. It all just works, so well, SO WELL, together.
For seasonal eaters, August is a month of unapologetic gluttony.
In August, a morning walk to the garden yields a basket overflowing with tomatoes, cucumber, onions and okra. A weekly trip to the farmers market means discovering green beans, sweet corn, eggplant, blackberries and sticky figs. Even the grocery store has faux farmstands laden with the most plentiful local vegetables and fruits: here in St. Louis that means tomatoes, zucchini, sweet corn, peaches and melons.
In August, we eat with the abandon of plenty: just-picked vegetables raw and cooked, sandwiched and stewed and souped; just-ripe fruit eaten over the sink to catch the juices, or sliver by sliver, all to savor the season’s natural sweetness.
In August, we become ‘salt and pepper cooks’ for freshness requires little seasoning to extract the life within. In August, no meal, including breakfast, is complete without at least a slice of the perfection that is a summer tomato.
In August, we set aside all-things-chocolate for peach cobbler and blueberry pie and fruity soups. We forgo crème brulee when there are cherries and grapes and apricots and plums.
In August, we … but wait, tell me, what is “August food” for you? What are you eating now? What is essential to August?
What a hearty, meaty salad this is, a real meal versus a light supper. With a few moving parts, it’s a bit of a production but make it once and you’ll make it again almost without thinking, purposefully moving from one step to the next. It’s makes for a companionable Cooking for Two project but can also be made completely ahead, then assembled at the last minute, just before serving. I’ve made it for two, I’ve made it for ten, it’s that flexible, that good.
GRILLED STEAK with
SUMMER TOMATO SALAD
Time to table: 1 hour
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
- 4 tablespoons red wine
- 1 pound beef steak – ribeye, skirt steak, any good cut
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled and chopped (what is a poblano pepper? how to roast peppers)
- 2 slices bacon
- 1 red onion, chopped small
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup beef stock (see TIPS)
- Juice of 4 small limes (about 4 tablespoons)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 small head iceberg lettuce (see TIPS), sliced thin
- 1 – 2 large perfect summer tomatoes, chopped (see TIPS)
- 1 ripe avocado, chopped
- 1/3 cup grated cheese, cotija, Romano or Parmesan (see TIPS)
- Cooked bacon
- Thin slices of lime
- Cherry tomatoes
- Corn tortillas, cut into strips and crisped in a little oil in a skillet
GRILLED STEAK In a large flat container, mix the red wine vinegar, Worcestershire and red wine; add the meat and marinate for up to 30 minutes, turning occasionally. (Make the Warm Vinaigrette and Tomato Salad before continuing.) Lift the meat out of the marinade (if you like, save the marinade for the Warm Vinaigrette, see TIPS), season to taste and grill to the desired doneness. On the cross-grain, cut into strips.
WARM VINAIGRETTE While the meat marinates, roast the poblano. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon on medium heat until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels to use in the Tomato Salad, then sauté the onion and garlic in the remaining bacon grease. Add the beef stock, using a spatula to grab the crispy bits off the bottom (this is called ‘deglazing’ the pan’ and is an essential step for developing flavor). Add the roasted poblano, lime juice and salt and pepper and let simmer until slightly thick. Turn off the heat and let rest until ready to serve. Can be made ahead, just rewarm before tossing into the Tomato Salad.
TOMATO SALAD Meanwhile, in a large bowl, layer the lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese and bacon.
SERVE & SAVOR (Grill the steak before continuing.) If needed, rewarm the vinaigrette, then toss well with the Tomato Salad, wilting the lettuce and wetting the entire mixture. Transfer the salad to individual plates, top with meat slices, garnish as desired. Dig in, devour!
Prepping the Summer Tomato Salad
Don't be tempted to compose a perfect-looking salad directly on the dinner plates, a slice of tomato here, a sliver of avocado there. Instead, combine all the salad ingredients in a big bowl first, then transfer to serving plates. Yes, it's a little wet and messy but it builds the perfect texture and taste.
Salad Suppers with August Produce
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