A Square Meal

A fresh salad is a great way to welcome summer, particularly when it celebrates the exuberant greenness that’s, well, everywhere now.  Adorn it with a juicy steak, meltingly tender and sliced thinly across the grain, and you have a complete, satisfying meal perfect for bright sunshine, sultry evenings and other perks of a season of outdoor living.

Today’s preparation is Straccetti di Manzo, an inspiration from Italy, a country that knows something about outdoor living, entertaining and dining.  The idea appeared in Gourmet, a magazine that’s now, sadly, former, in its 2008 recipe collection.  Eleven years later, though, straccetti soars again, proving summer’s wonders are eternal.

The dressing is what gives this steak salad a particularly Italian identity.  After the beef is pan-seared in a blend of olive oil, garlic and rosemary, the drippings are mixed with two kinds of vinegar and  freshly-cracked pepper, then a large shallot is sliced and sautéed in the fragrant concoction.  After the shallot begins to tenderize, but still retains a bit of its crispness, it tops the salad and the surrounding dressing percolates through the steak, and drips down to enhance the greens below.

Every step of the way, the dressing picks up flavors, and the final product is smooth and light with a sweetly tangy spiciness infused with garlic’s bite.  It ties together the steak’s richness and the greens’ leafy herbal notes, while arugula’s peppery profile matches so well with a similar taste in the dressing.

Traditionally, straccetti di manzo is a summer favorite in Roman trattoria, due to its relatively quick preparation.  It’s light enough to retain summer’s effervescence, yet satisfying enough to fill the soul with contentment.  A perfect meal, no matter whether you’re in the Eternal City, or elsewhere, just basking in eternal sunshine.


Straccetti di Manzo

(Sliced Steak with Arugula)

  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 pound boneless steak
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 large shallot, thinly-sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Mound arugula on a large platter.

Cut the steak across the grain into thin strips.  Toss meat with the salt and pepper and set it aside.

In a large skillet over high heat, pour in the olive oil.  When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and the rosemary.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden-brown, about four minutes.  Discard the garlic and the rosemary.

Add the steak to the skillet and cook it, stirring constantly, until it just looses its pinkness, about a minute.  Using tongs, layer the meat atop the greens.

Add the shallot to the skillet along with the vinegars.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Allow mixture to boil for two minutes.  Remove from heat and drizzle shallots and dressing over the steak.  Give the dressing a minute to flow through the salad, and serve.




6 thoughts on “A Square Meal

    1. Much appreciated, Tamara!

      Choosing recipes is, inevitably, narcissism, as I select only dishes that appeal to me, and which I think others would enjoy seeing me attempt. To read of someone who shares that regard is touching.

      More than tears, if posts here and on your site inspire a smile and a satisfying reverie, all the better.

      As our friends in New York say, Excelsior (Onward and Upward)!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. Many places around the globe charm, but a few offer extras (and not just in the City, either).

        And just like that, New York Cheesecake enters the roster of future recipes.

        See what you inspired, Tamara?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Coincidentally I ordered (now I order my produce online yay!) arugula yesterday, which I LOVE and for some reason always forget to buy! And coincidentally I ordered it because I was craving Arugula and steak salad. I add blue cheese to mine 🙂 I HAVE to make the dressing with rosemary and shallots as in your recipe! YUM!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would you believe, Daniela, one of my colleagues/friends mentioned a couple days ago she does the exact same thing? Now, I don’t want to be the last person on Earth to order groceries online, do I?

      Arugula’s peppery taste pairs splendidly with steak, among other things. The blue cheese’s tang would go really well with the vinegars, I suspect. Good idea!

      I waited too long to grow arugula this spring, as it prefers mild days and crisp nights. By Easter the weather had moved a bit past that. Still, late September will offer one more chance this year, yielding harvests in October. Send happy gardening thoughts my direction…


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