Once spring hits and the mornings turn a bit warmer, I find it really difficult to sleep late. I hear the birds start their early morning chirps then I see the sky start to lighten. My mind starts thinking about being outside digging, planting or watering. Yesterday morning was no exception. After being away for the weekend, I was chomping at the bit to plant my little tomato plants that had finally grown from their teeny seeds to a size ready to take on the world. So at first light, I tucked into a few layers to ward off the chill and headed out to the garden with my tomato friends…and whoa! my little lettuce plants had grown to adult size! The cool temps and rain had sent them soaring over the past week. I was so excited – my first lettuce crop! I had tried a few years earlier but my fuzzy bunny friends decided to lop off the little lettuce leaves the minute they surfaced. A new garden location and fence helped solve that problem and there they were – beautiful lettuce, spinach and baby swiss chard. Woohoo!
One of my very favorite dishes in Italy is ‘tagliata con rucola‘ – sliced steak served over arugula with shavings of parmigiano on top and typically a bit of lemon or balsamic as a dressing. I could think of no better marriage then a tasty steak, still slightly warm, served with its juices and lemon alongside my first lettuces from the garden. I was working from home so I decided to dash to the market in between conference calls to buy a nice piece of locally grown beef. Dinner was born. I added in a bit of sliced onion and asparagus (just couldn’t pass them up at the market) and bought some arugula to mix in with my homegrown baby spinach and butter lettuces. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did – I only wish I could have you all over for dinner to sample my first little crop of the season! Enjoy!
Grilled Steak Salad – Italian Style
1 pound steak such as rib-eye or strip
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
About 3 cups mixed greens, washed (I used a mixture of baby spinach, arugula, and butter lettuce)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Shavings of good quality Parmigiano Reggiano
1. Slather a drizzle or two of olive oil all over the steak. Season both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow to rest for a few minutes. In a separate bowl, toss the asparagus with a bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat your grill or grill pan. Place your steak on the grill of choice and grill until rare to medium rare. (Do NOT under any circumstances cut open to see if it is done or all the beautiful juices will be lost!) Once cooked, rest the steak on a platter or cutting board. Tent with foil and allow to rest for ten minutes to give the meat a chance to relax and the juices to re-absorb. In the meantime, grill the asparagus, turning a couple of times, until crisp-tender – about 3-5 minutes depending on thickness of the asparagus.
3. In a large bowl, combine the lettuces. Cut the steaks crosswise into thin slices and add to the salad. Cut the asparagus into bite sized pieces. Add to the bowl. Add in the sliced onion. Stir to combine. Drizzle with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons). Add in the juices from the steak. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the salad. (I like lemon so I use the juice from one whole lemon. You may want to cut back and use the juice from 1/2 of the lemon.) Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Gently mix to combine.
4. Arrange the salad on a serving platter. Scatter with the shavings of Parmigiano. Serve with additional lemon wedges. Enjoy!