We were serving lunch outdoors this weekend. I was looking for something simple to do. We’d planned a weekend of several different dishes in the “chicken or fish” categories. Cruising through August’s Bon Appetit, I saw a stunning salad. Beautiful cherry tomatoes, thin slices of Persian cucumbers lay atop a bed of butter lettuce, a personal favorite. Then there was the beef, lovely slices of it flawlessly cooked and glistening on the plate. Finally, there was corn…a confetti of kernels that were casually strewn across all the rest. It looked wonderful. And since my guests were beef-eaters all, it was the perfect dish to round out our weekend menus. And a big plus was the recipe was developed by Bon Appetit’s Claire Saffitz. And I will cook anything Claire Saffitz invents.
When I went back to Bon Appetit after I made the dish, I saw that the recipe came from the section of the magazine labelled “Home” and subheaded “Recipes, Essential Goods, and Test Kitchen Know-how.” I was particularly pleased to see that my lunch salad was given the following introduction; “Our go-to I’m feeling fancy dinner is a perfectly medium-rare steak and a pile of vegetables.” So this dish is perfect for one night this week. It’s a great way to use cherry tomatoes and corn at their peak. The Persian cucumbers and Butter Lettuce may be year ‘round staples but they’ll never taste better than this. Especially since the shallot vinaigrette with its mustard-y goodness brings their flavor out brilliantly. I do have to say that Claire Saffitz, Bon Appetit’s recipe whiz kid, took her readers through every single step and reason why. I’ve cut it back on the theory that when a recipe looks too complex, cooks like me shy away from it. Even so, do not be intimidated by the length of this recipe. This is any easy dinner to pull off. And you’ll do so to great applause. Here it is in (slightly) edited form.
Claire Saffitz' Steak Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette
A perfect summer dinner salad with the season's best cherry tomatoes and corn plus the unmistakable allure of a great steak dinner
- 1-½ lbs. 1-inch-thick boneless New York strip steak
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 Cups Corn Kernels (I used 1 ear of corn)
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 head of butter lettuce, leaves separated
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 Persian cucumbers thinly sliced
- Step 1 Pat steak(s) dry with paper towels and place on a clean plate. Season very generously all over with salt and pepper. Let it sit at room temperature 1 hour. The steak will cook more evenly if it is at room temperature.
- Step 2 Make the Salad dressing.
- Step 3 Peel and finely chop 1 shallot and transfer to a medium bowl. Add 1 Tbsp. mustard and 1 Tbsp. vinegar and whisk to combine. Whisking constantly, slowly stream in 5 Tbsp. olive oil until dressing is thick and emulsified. Whisk in 1 Tbsp. water to thin the dressing out a bit. Season with salt to taste, and add another splash of vinegar to taste.
- Step 4 Prep your other salad ingredients.
- Step 5 Slice 1 pint cherry tomatoes in half and transfer to a medium bowl. Slice 2 cucumbers into thin coins and transfer to bowl with tomatoes. Separate lettuce leaves and arrange on a large platter.
- Step 6 Heat a dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Pat steak dry. Rub steak with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil.
- Step 7 Using tongs, gently lay steak in preheated pan. Cook undisturbed until a golden brown crust forms, about 3 minutes. Turn steak and cook on second side for another 3 minutes.
- Step 8 Turn steak to sear around thinner sides and fat cap until browned, then continue to cook 1 minute per side until steak is medium-rare in the center, 3–5 minutes longer. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the steak should read 120–125°. Continue to cook until you get there. Transfer steak to cutting board. It should rest at least 10 minutes.
- Step 9 Remove skillet from heat. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel to remove any blackened oil. Let skillet cool 1–2 minutes, then heat over medium-low. Have a spoon close at hand. Add 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 sprigs thyme and tilt skillet toward you so butter foams and pools along one side. Add the corn. Cook until the corn is brown. Watch out, it will actually start to pop which is the precise time to take your pan off the heat.
- Step 10 Build your salad: Season platter of lettuce with salt and pepper. Whisk dressing to combine and drizzle about half over lettuce.
- Step 11 Season tomatoes and cucumbers with salt and pepper. Toss with a couple of tablespoons of dressing and arrange in a row along one side of lettuce.
- Step 12 Once steak has rested, thinly slice crosswise and shingle slices down across middle of platter. Season steak with more salt and pepper. Then shower the entire platter with the corn then drizzle remaining dressing over the platter and serve.