Monday, 29 August 2011

Seared Steak Salad: The Art Of Eating Alone

Check out this new natural light!
Sorry about the long delay between posts...I've recently begun living in sin with my boyfriend, and moving houses basically took over my whole life. We kind of moved in stages and I only had two plates, one pan, etc., for about 2 weeks, anyway, this is all totally boring and needless to say I haven't been doing much cooking. But the new kitchen is unpacked, and it's my new favourite place in the world. This is not an exaggeration.

So, we had eaten the remainder of the leftover take-out and yesterday I needed to get my cook on:  I wanted to make something salad-y but still hearty, and I was eating alone.

Ah, the often derided solo eating experience. Here's the thing with eating alone:  it always irks me when people say 'I would never bother going to any trouble just to cook for myself'. Who better to go to the trouble for? I actually make a point of going to a ton of trouble to cook for myself - I know that's due in large part to the fact that I love cooking, and not everyone does, but it's also because I think it's lame to settle for a bowl of cereal or some crappy KD (unless you've got a hankering for just that, in which case, no judgment) just because you happen to be flying solo. Step up, loners! Let's make ourselves something nice, yeah? Let's not succumb to the outdated and closed-minded view that eating HAS to be a social occasion - and man, it's so great when it is - but instead, let's admit that there's also something very private and wonderful about sitting alone with something you've taken good care to make for yourself. No chatting, no passing of salt, no distractions. Just you and your nourishment.

So, after that brief rant, we arrive at the recipe. I bought a perfect little striploin today. Because some days, my body is like 'Feed me red meat' - and I happily oblige. Oh - and another added benefit of cooking for one is you can splurge a bit on the ingredients...the steak I bought, which was a perfect serving for one, was a whopping $4. Actually, now that I think about it, that had to be wrong. Oh well.

Wood on wood: the weird thing about a butcher block
counter is you never want to chop on it. So, I guess it's all
just aesthetics. Right? 
Seared Steak with Zucchini and Parmesan

Striploin steak, enough for one
1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
Some thinly sliced red onion      (to take some of the bite out of raw red onion, I usually soak it, after slicing, in a small bowl with cold water - I have no idea the science behind it but the onion mellows out and becomes way less harsh)
A handful of halved cherry tomatoes
Parmesan shavings, as much as you want      (the easiest way to achieve 'shaved' parmesan is with a vegetable peeler)
Green leaf lettuce
1 tsp of butter, for frying
1 tsp of neutral oil, for frying

For the dressing:
Juice of half a lemon - it'll be about 1 tbsp worth
1/2 teaspoon of minced fresh rosemary     (you can also use thyme, or oregano, or any strong, woodsy type herb)
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of dijon mustard, the smooth kind
A splash of white balsamic vinegar      (I added this after I tasted the dressing and was like 'whoa, easy rosemary', and the whole thing needed a bit of a pick-up - worked like a charm)
Salt and pepper, to taste

To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a small jar and give it a good shake. Taste, and fix it up/readjust to your taste.

Who needs company with this hot salad joining you?
Okay, here is a super important step when you're frying a steak. Take it out of the fridge at least an hour before you cook it. It needs to come to room temperature before it hits the max heat you are about to subject it to. This is kind of a crucial step - don't skip it. You'll notice the difference. Once it's rested at room temperature for a while, salt and pepper one side, aggressively. Use more than you think you should be using. It'll give it a wicked, salty and peppery crust kinda thing.

Crank your heat up to high, and add your butter and oil to a sturdy pan (ideally cast iron, but any good solid pan will do). Once your pan is nice and hot, place the steak in the pan, salt and pepper side down. Salt and pepper the other side now, and then don't touch it. Let it sear on one side for about 3-4 minutes, and then flip it over, and let it go for another 2 minutes, for rare to medium rare, longer if you like it cooked more thoroughly. Once it's had its time, take it out of the pan and let it sit and rest for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, once you've flipped your steak that one time, you'll want to throw in your chunked up zucchini, and let it brown up a bit while the steak does its second 2-minute or so side - the zucchini will hang out a bit longer than the steak, for a total of about 5 minutes. Which is great, because the steak needs to rest while the zucchini finishes up. Once your steak is rested, slice it very thinly, against the grain. Place the sliced steak on the lettuce, along with your halved cherry tomatoes, the zucchini, the red onion you have diligently soaked in cold water, and the delightful parmesan shavings.

The whole thing will take you about 15 minutes of active cooking. You show me someone who doesn't have 15 minutes to cook themselves something nice, and I'll show you a liar.

Last step:  pour the dressing over the salad, toss it up a wee bit, and eat.  Alone and happy.


  1. It just kills me that your name on here is Almost Ange. Why is that happening? It's hilarious. Don't change it ever.

  2. carly, your blog is great... really good. looking forward to reading more posts.

  3. So, I've just strolled home and, with Jeanine away, tonight's a solo dining night. Even at the best of times, Carly, I'm a bowl of cereal kind of guy. But tonight I'm definitely gonna sear a steak to put onto my Rice Krispies. Oh, and although probably not the forum to mention this, I suspect you'll be interested to know that I tapped into 18 and Life by Skid Row on the walk home. Now if only I could find my air guitar. Not to mention a bowl of cold water in which to douse these godforsaken onions.