This post is less about a recipe than it is about a concept of a meal. I whipped up this steak salad a few days back from a great variety of goodies in the fridge, it was the perfect meal for a warm spring evening. Once I had everything arranged on the platter I drizzled a quick homemade balsamic vinaigrette over the whole shebang and served it up with a crispy artisan loaf fresh from the oven. As simple as this dish was, I was amazed that so many at the table commented on how they never think to make a salad like this as a way to use up leftover meat.
Normally, there is no such thing as a leftover steak in my house. With the price of good beef what it is these days, I’m pretty careful about buying just enough to feed the gang so as to avoid any going into the fridge for later use and never seeing the light of day again. So how did I come by the two beautiful 1 1/2″ thick, perfectly cooked prime beauties you see here?
I got them from the Test Kitchen.
One of the quite awesome benefits of working at America’s Test Kitchen is that ALL the food generated by our recipe development teams on a daily basis ultimately ends up in our bellies or in doggie bags brought home at the end of the day. At first, I didn’t believe it was possible, because to be honest we make a TON of food daily that is tasted, critiqued, and either set out to eat or packaged for transport. One thing I hate more than just about anything is wasting food, and so “what becomes of all the food generated on-premises ?” was one of the first questions I asked when interviewing for the job. I wasn’t sure I could work at a place where barrels of food were tossed into a dumpster each day, and I was happy to learn that the staff had an amazing capacity to consume, in some manner or fashion, all that was produced by our prolific team of test cooks. Part of the trick to the system’s success is that no one ever brings lunch because it’s just not necessary. There’s delicious food on offer wherever you turn ALL DAY LONG, so grazing is the order of the day at ATK. Then, whatever isn’t eaten during the normal course of tastings or as an impromptu lunch, is packaged and placed into what we call “the take-home fridge”. It’s everyone’s habit to make the fridge their last stop before heading out the door for home to see what treats the day offers. Each trip to the fridge is a bit like Christmas morning, you don’t know what you might find in there, but you know it’s going to be tasty.
These steaks were the product of testing by my friend Andrea and she was kind enough to put them aside for me to stash in my own personal cold storage to take home at the end of the day. As you might imagine, as good as the food is that makes its way into the take-home fridge, the VERY best items, such as whole steaks, roasts, and seafood tend to get scooped up and hidden away as soon as tastings are completed and therefore never seem to leave the main test kitchen. Not sure whether people text, tweet, or instagram, but occasionally stuff disappears so quickly that I’m convinced there is some sort of underground signaling system in place that alerts people to the availability of really choice leftovers. It’s kinda “swarm of locust” freaky how fast people can descend on the kitchen, snap up food, then retreat to their offices. If I blink I miss the whole thing.
This salad consisted of a mix of greens, some chopped marcona almonds, a few slices worth of crispy bacon lardons, crumbled goat cheese, diced cucumbers, baby tomatoes, and some fresh basil. On top of all that I laid the steak slices, seasoned with some freshly ground pepper and maldon sea salt, and a feast was had. In addition to being a delicious, fresh meal, serving steaks sliced this way and part of a salad is a much more economical way to dish out protein at the family table. This salad, made with just two steaks, amply served six of us at the table. So the next time you’re grilling steaks over a weekend, throw a few extra on to slice up later in the week for a really quick and tasty meal that will take advantage of all the great produce the summer season has to offer.
Cheers – Steve