Recently I was craving a certain steak and arugula salad from one of my very favorite restaurants in the city - Vynl. If you know me, you know I am not much of a red meat eater so this craving may come as a surprise to you. You may also be aware that historically I was never much of a salad person. That should just tell you how good this salad is. Instead of responding to the craving by reaching for the phone (or my laptop since I usually order online - see, NYC makes it too easy to eat out!), I reached for my own cupboards. Except, really, this takes more planning then that. I first ordered all the ingredients I needed online, because grocery shopping that way is a dream! By commiting to bi-weekly grocery deliveries, I can plan better meals with real food instead of being stuck with what is left in my cupboards or what I can grab near work.
On Sunday afternoon, I dove into my imitation steak salad.
First up, I started with some baby arugula.
The package claims it was pre-washed but I don't really trust that. Besides, I don't have a lot of opportunities to use my salad spinner - so I tossed some greens in and gave it a whirl.
Next up: one red pepper. Let me tell you a little something about red peppers. Until quite recently I thought I did not like them. For years I steered clear of peppers of all colors all due to a genuine aversion to green bell peppers. I assumed they were all alike - bitter and gross. But somehow, some way, I convinced myself to start trying these babies and low and behold I learned . . . they are tasty! Unlike their green cousins, red (and orange and yellow) peppers are not bitter at all. In fact, they are kind of sweet. See. . . .
I decided to delve into uncharted territory for me and roast this red pepper. My cook book and internet resources suggested a long tedious process involving the oven and 45 minutes which seemed a bit overkill for one measley red pepper so I tried my Cuisinart grill instead. I just turned it on high heat and attempted to balanced the red pepper between the grill plates.this was easier said than done as the pepper made a couple of escape attempts which I quickly thwarted with the use of a hot pad.
I rotated the pepper a few times to ensure even roasting and since I was doing other things during this process, I have no idea how long it took to completely roast the pepper. 20 minutes? 30? I just let it roast until I was ready for it, or, more accurately, until I needed the grill for the meat. Meanwhile, I chopped up one shallot and a few cloves of garlic in my mini-chopper.
Then I tossed them in some olive oil, gave them a quick stir and let them brown up.
When they looked like this, I removed the pan from the heat and set it aside.
Then I pulled out this wonderful "low-fat"! goat cheese out of my fridge. I absolutely LOVE goat cheese and if it really is lower in fat, then all the better.
Goat cheese is a soft cheese so while I started by slicing off a couple of generous medallions (of which I used about 2/3), I was ultimately trying to get some crumbles.
So I chopped it up and got this:
By now, I think the red pepper is sufficiently roasted, so I removed it from the grill to make way for the meat. And since one of my online guides recommended putting the pepper in a jar with the lid on to help steam off the skin, I did that. Although I can't say I was entirely clear as to why I needed to remove the skin. And since I found it difficult to remove, even after I let it steam it up in a covered dish, I skipped that step and went straight to the chopping and de-seeding stage. I have no tips here. Just remove the top, dig out the seeds and dice.Meanwhile, you should grill your meat. I used skirt steak that came pre-marinated in lime and cumin - deliciously spicy. I don't have a bbq on hand in my apartment so I tossed it onto my Cuisinart grill: Skirt steak is a pretty narrow cut which slices into nice and easy to eat strips. And just fyi, this was cooked medium-rare, it looks far more rare here than it did in real life. Now it's time to put it all together! Toss the arugula on a plate:
Add some of the garlic and onions,
Add the goat cheese crumbles,
and the roasted red peppers,
Add the meat [pretend there is a photo of that part here],
And drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the top as dressing.
The verdict: Delicious! Even better than the original!
Except, I was pretty sure I could add just one more thing to make it better. As I was putting everything away I realized what that one thing might be: an Asian Pear!
Have you ever eaten an Asian pear? They are on the pricier side as far as fruit goes but oh, so worth it. I L O V E them! I sliced this one up after my salad and ate it for dessert . . . they are so sweet and juicy and delicious that they are a great answer to sweet tooth cravings.
I prepped my salad leftovers and used some very thin slices of pear to the mix to take for dinner at work the next day:
I prepared the arugula, pears and goat cheese in the tupperware,
and put the meat and red peppers and onions in a plastic bag (so I could reheat it before eating).
And since I couldn't find a small enough container for transporting a small amount of balsamic vinegar, I poured some of that in a plastic bag as well.
The meal was originally for dinner on Sunday and I had two more salads - one for dinner on Monday and one for dinner last night. Each time I was happy to pull something out of the work fridge that I had prepared rather than wandering down to the lobby to pick up a delivered meal. And the addition of the pear? Wonderful! The salad is complete.
But I still had some red peppers leftover, so I put them in a jar,
added some olive oil,
and tossed in the remaining garlic and onions.
I was told they can be stored like this for a couple of weeks. I dont' have this much left now but what I do have is a good start for spicing up a sandwich or maybe some pasta.
One more thought, I think this salad could be great without the meat as well by substituting in some walnuts. I think this might become a new summer staple for me.