Spinach & Flank Steak Salad
I subscribe to a ton of food blogs and, as a result, I generally get a handful of recipes personally delivered to my email inbox each day. The gems get filed away under the bulging To Make List. Some get a quizzical, “Really? You think that tastes/looks/smells like a good idea?” and are promptly filed in the mysterious Gmail “archive,” never to be heard from again. Very rarely do I receive a recipe that produces a Run-Don’t-Walk level of urgency. This salad was of the Run-Don’t-Walk variety.
The recipe showed up on a Monday. Had it not been for the fact that I am currently studying for a rather large, life-altering exam (ahem, The Bar) that will determine the validity of my last three years of oh-so expensive schooling, the salad would have been made that very evening. Rest assured that despite my current level of chaos, this salad was still made before the end of the week. You would think that this story would end with the expected disappointment that usually results when one has such heightened expectations. But, you would be wrong.
Steak salads tend to be on the heavy side, but this salad was just the opposite! The dressing is light, refreshing, slightly tangy and mildly sweet (It’s sweetened with agave nectar! Yes, it’s my current obsession!). The black beans and black eyed peas make the salad extremely filling while remaining light enough for a hot summer day. The original recipe called for red onions, but I only had sweet vidalia ones in the fridge so I used those instead. Next time I’m going to caramelize the onions first. Oh man, that’s going to take this salad to an extraterrestrial level!!
The recipe calls for searing the steak in a hot pan and then finishing it off in the oven. This is a fast, fool-proof method of getting a perfectly medium-rare steak. However, since it’s getting to be warm and wonderful outside, if you have access to a grill this would be fantastic topped with a grilled steak. Doesn’t it just look scrumptious?
My polite warning: Be careful. Don’t trip when you Run-Don’t-Walk to make this.
Spinach & Flank Steak Salad
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds flank steak*
2 TBL olive oil
2 TBL plus 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1-2 medium lime)
1/2 tsp lime zest
3 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp kosher salt
6 TBL olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium red bell pepper
1 cup cooked black beans**
1 cup cooked black-eyed peas**
1 medium red or sweet white onion, thinly sliced
6 ounces (about 6 cups) baby spinach, washed and dried (*this can be substituted with arugula)
- To make the dressing, combine lime juice, lime zest, agave nectar, garlic, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Whisking continuously, add olive oil in a thin stream until well blended.
- Season well with freshly ground black pepper.
- The dressing can be made in advance and refrigerated for a few days (maybe even up to a week). Just shake the dressing or whisk again to combine before dressing the salad.
- To make the steak, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- Remove steak from the refrigerator, blot with paper towels, and season liberally on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Heat a large, oven-safe frying pan over high heat and add oil. (You can make a regular pan "oven-safe" by wrapping the handle in aluminum foil before placing it in the oven.)
- When the oil is hot, add steak and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side.
- Transfer the pan to the oven, and cook steak for about 4-5 minutes for medium rare.
- Let steak rest a few minutes before slicing against the grain into thin (approximately 1/4-inch thick) slices.
- To assemble the salad, trim ends of bell pepper, remove seeds, and discard. Chop the bell pepper into bite-sized pieces.
- Combine sliced steak, bell pepper, black beans, black-eyed peas, onion, and spinach in a large bowl.
- Add dressing and toss to evenly coat. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
* Flank steak is a fairly marbled steak, meaning that is has a decent fat content. If you want to keep this salad South Beach Friendly, I was suggest substituting an eye-round or a lean sirloin cut. Both of those cuts would work well with the pan seared or grill methods.
** I used canned beans for this. It was super simple and fast. And each can was less than a buck. Seriously. When it's that cheap and easy, why not? But, be sure to rinse them very well prior to tossing in the salad!! If you are feeling ambitious, feel free to cook your own beans. We will all just point at you and call you an overachiever.
Adapted from Chow's Flank Steak Salad with Arugula