southwestern steak salad
Summer calls. Hot, sultry days and warm, breezy nights. The kind of climate where the thought of turning on the stove or oven seems like an affront to the air conditioning that’s working overtime to keep the sauna-like temperatures at bay. On days like this, I find it’s better to forage in the fridge for dinner.
And so it happened on this occasion. Too hot to cook and enough fresh vegetables in the refrigerator to make me think I didn’t have to. The “day past perfect” avocado on the counter became the centerpiece for this meal. When I think avocado, I automatically imagine Mexican or Southwestern fare. Guacamole, of course, but also as a creamy binder for quesadillas, or atop a big bowl of hearty chili. But I wasn’t “cooking” tonight, remember?
A cool salad — with a Southwestern twist. That sounded flavorsome. I had some leftover grilled flank steak and corn on the cob and a can of black beans… Definitely the makings of something good. I always have a supply of different cheeses on hand and the queso fresco left over from last week’s chicken tacos would go well with this combination. To bring it all together with that smoky, spicy southwestern-ness, I made a simple lime vinaigrette with some cumin and chili powder. Yum.
What I like about this kind of meal, is that I’m making the most of what I have on hand. If you have leftover chicken instead of steak — use it instead, it will be delicious. No queso fresco? Substitute some shredded cheddar. Add chopped jicama or green onions. Don’t like cilantro? Don’t use it. Skip the chipotle if you don’t like heat. Add sliced jalape?os if you do. Make it your own, and don’t work up a sweat! It’s just dinner.
- 6 cups of lettuces (I used a blend of arugula, bibb and red leaf)
- 1 ear of corn, kernels removed or 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 1/2 cup of black beans
- 1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 ripe avocado, sliced or cut into bite size chunks
- 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 2 hardboiled eggs, halved or quartered
- ~ 1/2 pound of leftover steak, very thinly sliced
- For vinaigrette
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho or chipotle chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- For vinaigrette: Into a small bowl or glass measuring cup add all ingredients and whisk until emulsified.
- Lay the sliced steak across a large platter, carpaccio style.
- Add lettuces, black beans, corn, red onion, bell pepper and queso fresco to a large bowl.
- Spoon several tablespoons of vinaigrette over the salad and toss with salad tongs until lettuces are lightly coated.
- Mound dressed salad atop the steak. Arrange eggs and avocado atop salad. Sprinkle with cilantro.
- Another serving method -- toss all ingredients but steak and eggs in a large bowl. Arrange steak slices and egg halves or quarters atop the salad.