Recipe: Summertime Steak Salad

It’s officially summertime here in Southern California, which means we’re starting to haul zucchinis out of our garden by the armload once again, and keeping an eager eye on my budding tomato plants.  It’s the perfect season for grilling and chilling, and for munching on all of the fresh flavors of the season.  This salad maximizes the freshness of our early summer harvests – featuring lettuce, cilantro, and red onions alongside strips of grilled steak, red wine vinegar, olive oil, black pepper, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.  It’s a big steakhouse-style salad that is filling but light, healthy and satisfying.  It’s honestly everything that I want to eat this summer, and I can’t wait to make it on repeat this year.

This salad was inspired by one of my favorite things that my mom used to make me growing up – grilled flank steak topped with the most amazing cilantro sauce.  Friends, I used to eat this sauce by the spoonful growing up.  I’m sure there were times that my parents had to take it away from me because I would sneak bites of it while the rest of dinner was cooking.  It’s super simple to make – just chopped cilantro, red onion, salt, and olive oil – and it’s my favorite thing.  I made a big batch of this sauce to top my grilled steaks, and saved the leftovers from both to make this salad the next day.  It’s the perfect accompaniment to this steak salad, and honestly, the flavors help keep the salad interesting as you eat it.  Anything this sauce goes on is good, so don’t skip the step of making it!

The rest of this salad comes together with staples that I always have on hand.  Adding freshly grated parmesan cheese is my favorite salad trick that I discovered this year (I’ve even posted about it once so far!), and the addition of freshly ground black pepper makes this salad feel like a total steakhouse meal.  The red wine vinegar adds some lovely acidity to round it all out.  It’s the perfect salad, and I hope you make it!

Some quick substitutions and additions for you before we get along with the recipe.  I know there are people who are not cilantro fans, and I don’t want that to stop you from making this recipe.  Swap the cilantro with parsley, basil, dill, or even mint, and it will all be good!  If you want to add additional veggies, I think tomatoes would be an incredible addition, and cucumbers would also play nicely with the flavors here.  If you want to make this salad even more ultimate, feel free to add some crisped-up bacon bits along with your steak!  The recipe is perfect as is, but feel free to customize this base recipe to fit this salad to your needs!

Recipe down below, photo up top!  This is enough to make one big salad (which was a serving for one for me).  Feel free to scale up depending on how many people you need to feed!

Recipe: Summertime Steak Salad

Ingredients:

  • For the cilantro sauce:
    • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
    • ½ small red onion, diced fine
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • For the salad:
    • 2 cups of lettuce, cleaned and roughly chopped
      • This is about ½ a head of romaine lettuce
    • 4-6 oz steak, grilled and cooled
    • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • ¼ tsp black pepper
    • ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Method:

  1. The first step to this salad is to make the cilantro sauce.  This sauce gets better as it ages, so start here!  Chop the cilantro and onion into fine dice, and place in a bowl.  Add the olive oil and salt and stir to combine.  There should be enough oil to fully coat the onion and the cilantro and make a consistency of a thick paste.  If the mixture is looking dry, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and stir.  Set aside.
  2. Wash and dry your lettuce.  If starting with a whole head of lettuce (like a romaine or butter lettuce), separate the leaves and chop into bite sized (about 1 inch) pieces.  Add the chopped lettuce to a large bowl.
  3. Slice the grilled steak into thin slices.  Add the sliced steak to the bowl with the lettuce.
  4. Add the cilantro sauce (all of it!), red wine vinegar, freshly ground black pepper, and freshly grated parmesan cheese into the bowl with the lettuce and the steak.  Use your hands or tongs to toss fully.  The salad will be fully tossed when the lettuce is evenly coated with dressing and parmesan cheese is clinging to the lettuce and steak pieces evenly.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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