Ramp Pesto and a Steak Salad

Well, after a month of hodge-podge meals, way too much eating out, and less-than-healthy choices, I decided that it was time to get back on track. It’s officially July, so that means it’s time to really lean-in to summer produce! But after a month of stuffing myself with anything my heart desired, I had to ease myself into it first. A good way to do this is to make a beautiful salad, but then to “enhance it” with a hearty slab of medium-rare red meat. Also cheese. 

Upon visiting my corner green-grocer, I saw that garlic scapes, otherwise known as Ramps, are now available! (Also, sour cherries!! But that’s another post for another time). I grabbed a bunch of scapes and decided to whip up a batch of pesto with them! I used about 8 or 9 scapes, diced them up smallish, stuck them in my mini food processor along with about a half a cup of olive oil, a nice generous mound of grated parm, a handful of ripped up parsley and a decent handful of toasted slivered almonds. Also, lemon juice to taste. Whizz it all together until it’s nice and creamy. DONE. Easy peasy and you don’t even have to heat up the stove or oven.

Now, you can use this pesto as you would any other pesto, on pasta or veggies, but I decided to smear some of it all over a beautiful flank steak. I also made a quick marinade of olive oil, white wine vinegar, soya sauce and Dijon mustard, and placed my pesto-smeared flank steak in that mixture to marinade for a solid 8 hours. (If you’re short on time, at least an hour will do, and up to 24 hours is ok).

Next up, I gave some vine tomatoes the ol’ slow and low treatment. Cut them in half and put them onto a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can also throw some aromatics on there as well, like a few unpeeled cloves of garlic, or some time sprigs. Set the oven to 225 and let the tomatoes roast for about 3 hours. What you end up with is basically the equivalent of tomato-candy. Little jewels of tomato-concentrate.

While these are roasting and the beef is marinading, thinly slice a shallot or two. Put them in a bowl, sprinkle them with sugar and immerse the sliced shallots with wine vinegar (red or white, either will do). These will be your pickled shallots for the salad.

Make a quick dressing, using olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, honey, red wine vinegar (I like to use the vinegar that my shallots are pickling in. Waste not want not!) and Dijon. 

Once everything is roasted, pickled and marinaded, you’re ready to start assembling your salad. Take your flank steak out of the fridge, let it come to room temperature. In a bowl, mix together a generous pile of arugula and baby spinach. Dress the greens lightly with dressing you just made. Take your platter of choice (for a pretty salad, of course) and pile your greens onto then platter. Sprinkle the shallots (drained of vinegar) over the salad. Disperse the roasted tomatoes overtop as well. If there’s any oil left from roasting drizzle that over as well (it’s full of flavor!). 

Now, any good salad needs cheese. This is a fact of the world.  Because of all the other strong, garlicky, tangy, salty flavours already going on in this salad, I chose to go with bocconcini. I wanted the little balls, but the grocery store was out, so I got the slices instead, which made for a lovely presentation anyway. Put the cheese onto the salad. Make it look pretty if you want.

Ok. Now we’re going to cook our flank steak. If you have a grill, use that! If you, like me, do not have access to the joys of al fresco cooking, the next best option is broiling. Turn on your broiler (set it to high, if it has fancy-pants settings). Wipe the marinade off your flank steak, and the pesto. The broiler is high heat, and if there is too much pesto left behind…it could cause a minor kitchen fire. Maybe. Apparently. I WOULDN’T KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE OR ANYTHING.

Place the steak on a metal pan. Stick it closely under the broiler. I did four minutes for each side (with a brief intermission to put out the “alleged fire”). You could go up to about six minutes per side, if you want a more well-done steak (but honestly 4 minutes was perfect). Once it’s done, let it rest for 10-15 minutes.

Then slice ‘er up! Make sure you slice against the grain, to optimize tenderness. Top your beauty of a salad with these beautiful steak slices, and garnish the steak with a generous dollop of pesto.

I had some cauliflower burning a hole in my fridge (that’s a thing, right?),  so I decided to cut it into “steaks” and roast it (simple olive oil, salt and pepper treatment) at 450 for about 20 minutes, flipping it halfway through. It was an impulse decision, but it ended up being a really great complement to the steak salad. A+, would cook again.

And there you have it! The kind of salad that maybe eases you back into healthy eating. Filled with fresh produce, but with no absence of meat, cheese and fats (the holy trinity?). The first of many such salads this summer, I’m sure.


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