Steak Salad with Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette

This salad is so fancy I feel like I should be charging myself $15 just to eat it.  A bed of baby spinach topped with sliced sirloin steak, sauteed thyme mushrooms, crumbled goat cheese and a hot caramelized onion vinaigrette.  Can’t you just picture that salad gracing the menu of a fancy restaurant?  People like to toss around terms like “flavor profile” and espouse about the combination of flavors in a dish, but all I can say it that this salad is flippin delicious!

steak salad

Imagine a perfect steakhouse dinner.  Steak.  Mushrooms.  Spinach.  Now, imagine that perfect dinner transformed into a mouth-watering, one-plate salad.  A bed of tender baby spinach wilting under a hot caramelized onion vinaigrette.  Thinly sliced steak paired with earthy thyme mushrooms and melting goat cheese.  With food this good at home, you won’t ever have to go out again!


At first glance, this salad may seem like quite a workhorse.  You’re going to need a pan for caramelizing the onions.  A pan for the mushrooms.  A pan (and the oven) for the steak.  All that being said, each element is very simple and don’t let the sheer number of pans required turn you off from attempting this fantastic dish.

pan seared steak

Included in the recipe is my go-to, no-fail method for cooking a perfect steak.  It couldn’t be simpler.  Season a good quality steak (grass-fed if you can get it!) with salt and pepper on both sides and sear in a very hot pan for 30 seconds on each side.  Then put the entire pan into a hot oven.  Set a timer and finish off the steak for a minute or two for each side.  Be sure to let the steak sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing into it so that the juices redistribute and keep your steak juicy.


caramelized onions

Caramelizing onions requires a certain amount of patience.  In order to turn regular old white onions into the soft, sweet brown bits requires a “low and slow” cooking method.  After the first time you give yourself the full 45 minutes to make these, you will understand that they are entirely worth the wait!  Paired with perfectly cooked steak, an earthy mushroom, crisp spinach and slightly melting goat cheese … your friends will start to ask when you had time to attend culinary school!

steak salad


Steak Salad with Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette

Yield: 4 salads


Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette:
2 medium-sized yellow onions, halved and sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, pinch

Mushrooms with Thyme:
1 (8 oz.) package baby bella or cremini mushrooms, sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Salt, pinch

1 (8 oz.) sirloin steak
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 (15 oz.) package of baby spinach
1 (4 oz.) package goat cheese


- Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion slices and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir occasionally until onions begin to brown and reduce, approximately 40-50 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute sliced mushrooms until they release their liquid, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add thyme and salt. Stir until combined. Set aside until assembling salad.
- To prepare the steak, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Let the steak come to room temperature. Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sear each side of the steak in the skillet, 30 seconds on each side. Place the whole skillet in the oven (wrap the handle in foil if you aren't sure if it's oven-safe). Cook steak for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes on each side, depending on desired temperature. Remove from oven and remove steak from pan. Let sit for approximately 5 minutes before slicing. Slice steak thinly.
- Once the onions are browned, add apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, 5 tablespoons olive oil and salt to the pan over medium heat. Stir to combine.
- To assemble the salads, divide the spinach between four plates. Top with warm mushrooms and sliced steak. Pour hot onion vinaigrette over the entire salad. Top with crumbled goat cheese. Serve while still warm.

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8 Responses to “Steak Salad with Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette”

  1. 1
    Karly — June 12, 2011 10:40 pm

    “Flippin delicious” sounds good to me! :)

  2. 2

    I’m not a huge steak lover but this salad looks wonderful. Caramelized onion vinaigrette sounds amazing!

  3. 3
    Julia — June 14, 2011 1:22 pm

    Salad is my favorite food, especially with all these ingredients. Yep, flippin delicious is how I’d describe this too :)

  4. 4

    i am DROOLING over this salad—everything about it looks perfect! thanks for sharing!

  5. 5
    pannybear — June 15, 2011 8:30 pm

    Is there a place I can get this salad to go? :)

    • kate replied: — June 15th, 2011 9:55 pm

      Pannybear — In your kitchen! You can make this salad at home and enjoy it anytime you want! That’s the beauty of it.

  6. 6
    Charlie and Jackie Montpas — August 4, 2011 6:10 pm

    Great website with all your recipes. We are with Jake and Sue and wanted to look at your website. Will look at more later and get back with you.

  7. 7
    Jacque — April 14, 2014 8:26 pm

    Have made this several times and it is to die for! I don’t even like steak :)

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