I always call this my Restaurant Meal, because it feels so posh: gourmet salad, slices of steak (and vegetarians, please don’t give up on this recipe yet – marinated grilled mushrooms or tofu would work brilliantly here too), home-made mayonnaise, and beautiful pasta dura bread, toasted with garlicky oil to make it golden. All that salad means I can pretend it’s healthy, too!
Actually, it’s usually a bit of a leftoverish thing. I will keep on ordering these steaks when I’m feeling pre-menstrual, despite the fact that Andrew doesn’t eat steak unless it’s heavily disguised. So they sit there, getting closer to their use-by date, while I dither about them. Then, the pasta dura tends to be from two or three days ago when I did antipasti for dinner, and so it’s gone a bit stale and really *needs* to be toasted.
There’s no real excuse for the mayonnaise, I must admit. Though the mayonnaise does make a good excuse for meringues or macarons afterward…
Anyway, the results are always glorious – the steak is juicy (through no fault of mine, I might add – I’m not very good at cooking steak, but if you get your meat from a free-range, organic sort of farm, it’s pretty hard to make it taste bad), the mayonnaise creamy and decadent, the bread toasty and garlicky and wonderful, and the salad refreshing and just right for a hot summer evening. If you want, you can do the steak earlier, and have it cold in the salad – that works too. Whatever you do, it will be wonderful…
Your Shopping List (for 4 people)garlic mayonnaise 4 steaks – porterhouse, scotch fillet or eye fillet all work; alternatively, get 4 huge portobello mushrooms 1-2 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar salt, pepper 100 g mixed salad greens of your choice 1 red capsicum 1 lebanese cucumber 3 spring onions about 500 g assorted tomatoes (cherry or large or both) 2 nectarines 2 peaches a handful of basil leaves 8 slices of pasta dura bread or gluten-free sourdough 2 tablespoons garlic oil, or plain olive oil plus three cloves garlic juice of half a lemon a splash of white wine vinegar a couple of drizzles of olive oil (I’m sorry this is so inexact, but really, you need to dress your salad the way *you* like it)
Now what will you do with it?
Make the garlic mayonnaise first, if you don’t already have it on hand. I just want to note that I tried making it with a whisk instead of a fork the other day, and it was so much easier. I really recommend this approach.
For the steaks, trim them and put them on a plate. Drizzle over the oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then use your fingers to rub this mixture all over the steaks. Leave for five minutes or so. You can use exactly the same approach with mushrooms, incidentally, just take the stems off first. If you want to use tofu, I’d recommend following any Deborah Madison recipe you have to hand – I’ve only cooked tofu a couple of times, but I’ve found her very reliable, and am not alone in this.
Heat a char grill or frying pan on the stove until very hot. Do not put oil in it – you’ve oiled the steaks, and that ought to be sufficient. Add the steaks or mushrooms to the pan. This is where I don’t really know what I’m doing. I generally grill the steaks without moving them (I know that part is right!) until I see a little blood beading up on the uncooked side of the steak, then turn them and cook them (again without moving) on the other side until I think they are done. I’m not even going to attempt to tell you where that is, because I always guess, and half the time I’m wrong. Let them rest for at least half the cooking time, though, and by rest, I mean don’t cut them until they’ve had a chance to sit for that long. You want th juices to settle. Mushrooms can be grilled on each side until they are done to your liking. Sorry, I’ve always wanted to say that.
Set aside your steak or your mushrooms and either refrigerate for later use, or just let them rest while you prepare the salad.
This is easy. Tear up your salad greens and put them in a bit bowl. Slice up your capsicum and spring onions and add to the bowl. Peel your lebanese cucumber, halve it lengthwise and add. Tomatoes can be sliced, halved or left whole depending on size. Nectarines and peaches should be halved, the stones removed (I recommend not using a clingstone variety if you can help it!), and then sliced. Chop up the basil, add to the salad, and mix everything together. Dress with oil, vinegar and lemon juice and mix again.
Preheat your grill or oven, and lay your slices of bread on a baking tray (you may need to do this in two batches). Bake one side plain until just golden, then turn over and either drizzle and brush with garlic oil, or drizzle with plain oil and then rub all over with a cut garlic clove. You want to rub fairly hard, which is why you need so much garlic – I cut each clove in half and rub with the cut side down. Bake or grill until golden, watching closely to make sure the bread doesn’t burn. This really doesn’t take long.
Assemble your amazing, delicious meal! Divide the salad between four big bowls. It may not fit. That means you have seconds for later! Slice the steak or mushrooms thickly, and lay the slices over the salad. Put a big blob of mayonnaise on top of each bowl, and serve with two garlic toasts.
Eat with delight!
Well, mushroom or tofu are both good vegetarian variations. This would also work with lamb tenderloin or chicken, of course. A gluten-free version is easily arranged by choosing your bread wisely. I think the fructose intolerant are out of luck – this wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without the tomatoes, peaches and nectarines. We’re already dairy-free and nut-free, so that’s OK.
Vegans would need to find a suitable mayonnaise substitute as well as using the portobello or tofu option here. If you don’t have a vegan mayonnaise you like, Diana Henry has a wonderful recipe for Apple Allioli in her book Food from Plenty. Instead of using egg-yolk, you slowly beat olive oil into a purée of stewed apples and roasted garlic. It’s rather gorgeous, and should work with the sweetness of the nectarines and peaches here.
Also, don’t underestimate how good this salad is as a side-dish, without the meat or toasts. It’s really a beautiful thing to eat peaches and nectarines in a salad in summer. Embrace it!
This time last year…