Summer’s returning from its vacation soon, and it brings all sorts of nifty things we haven’t seen for nearly a year now, like fresh garden vegetables and cookouts. What better way to celebrate the season of plenty than with a dinner featuring so much of what gives summer the nicest house on the block?
Specifically, today brings a Steak Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette that Bon Appetit highlighted in its August 2019 number. The salad is light and refreshing yet is substantive enough to make a perfect summertime dinner. Plus. it’s served with a shallot-Dijon mustard dressing that enlivens the steak and adds a zing to the vegetables.
The vinaigrette, pictured below, is brought together at the right time, just prior to service, giving the constituent flavors just enough to mingle, but still to retain their individual characteristics. What vibrant elements they are, too, as shallots, red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard combine for a dressing that’s both tangy and savory, with a touch of heat and a generous amount of umami. Just look at those colors:
It’s important to apply the dressing moderately, so as not to drown the fresh salad ingredients, glowingly triumphant at having overcome the last frost a month ago. Plus, it’s not the only supplement, as the salad also is sprinkled with corn sautéed with fresh thyme, lending a slightly sweet toast.
Admittedly, fresh corn is still a month or so away, but this dinner is too good to wait until August. For once, fresh defers to frozen. Blame impatience, but the result is good and it needn’t wait until summer is nearly over. The same applies to the tomatoes, as grape tomatoes are the best option here, and they provide freshness now. Being greenhouse-grown, they’re quite decent in January, and they’re preparing to blow off our socks by the time summer gets here, oh, the day after tomorrow.
With a meal like this to greet the season, summer certainly will be happy to be home. The whole neighborhood’s here, and the grill is ready to go if needed. What a great evening it’s going to be! Enough to persuade summer never to leave again? Why not? It just might work.
Steak Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette
- 1 1-and-1/2 pound New York strip steak
- salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cups corn kernels, from 2 ears (*1)
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated (*2)
- seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (*3)
Pat the steak dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Let the steak sit while you prepare the vinaigrette.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the shallot, mustard and vinegar. Whisking constantly, slowly stream in 5 tablespoons of the olive oil, until mixture emulsifies (i.e., combines smoothly). Whisk in 1 tablespoon of water and set aside.
Light half the grill, then lower the lid to allow the temperature to climb. (*4) Meanwhile, place a cast-iron skillet over a medium-high flame. Rub the remaining tablspoon of olive oil over the steak and place it in the skillet. Cook for threee minutes, then flip the steak and cook for three minutes on the other side. Remove the steak to a plate and set aside for a moment.
Add the butter to the skillet and let it melt. When it does, add the corn and the thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is very lightly charred. Turn off the heat.
Take the steak and reduce the grill flame to medium. Place the steak over the flame and cook two minutes, then flip and cook for another couple minutes. Remove to a cutting board to rest.
Arrange lettuce on platters, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk the dressing for a moment, then pour half over the lettuce on the platters. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes and cucumbers, season with salt and pepper, add 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette, and toss again. Spoon these over the lettuce.
Slice the steak thinly and across the grain, and divide it among the platters, “shingling” the meat. Discard the thyme from the corn and sprinkle the corn over the platters. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette, and serve.
1 – As mentioned, it’s a little too early for fresh corn, but frozen still works well. One bag, thawed, will do he trick.
2 – Boston lettuce also works well; just remember to remove the central stems.
3 – Grape tomatoes are a great choice, and they come in multiple colors, as you can see above. Plus, I had a small cherry tomato plant I started indoors this spring, then brought outside a month or so ago. The very first tomatoes ripened just yesterday, and they went on the salad too. Mmm!
4- The original recipe has the steak cooked in the skillet only, and forgoes the grill. What’s the point of a summer party if you’re not going to grill? Exactly. Plus, it adds that nice smoky flavor and those great grill marks.
If you’re going to go the skillet-only route, though, leave the steak in the skillet after the original three minutes per side. Cook one minute per side, the flip and continue cooking the other side for a minute, then flip again. Repeat the cook-a-minute/flip cycle until you’ve cooked each side three times after the original sear.