Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Simple steak salad

 One of my favorite dinners (or lunch) is a steak salad.  I love steak, but i think I only love a little bit of steak.  When you go to a steak restaurant and order a steak, it is meat overload.  When you have just a few yummy strips it is perfection.  You may disagree and I'm cool with that.  The corollary to the rule is when a good bernaise sauce is present, then you could eat all the steak in the world.  But this is supposed to be a weight watchers type blog, and dreaming of steak and bernaise in ungodly portions is probably not a wise way to spend one's day. 

My go-to salad green is Maiche, also called lamb's lettuce depending on what part of the world you're in.  My mother used to grow it in the garden I think.  I didn't see it for decades and then was served it a bunch in the UK maybe 8 years ago.  It tastes a lot like baby spinach - a sweet delicate green - and comes in these little rosette clumps.  I think chefs likes the look of it.  What i liked was how long it lasted in my fridge.  I could buy a head of romaine and a bag of maiche and the maiche would still be good a week later.  I think because it has that little root still on the rosette maybe it doesn't die so quickly in the shipping.  I also like that they grow it in greenhouses so you can get it year round.  That is, until you move back to america, where people are saying 'paper mache what?'  when you ask about it.

So happy was I to find it in a Basha's in Tucson.  And then a whole foods somewhere and then .... almost completely reliably in Trader Joes.  Go buy some, you'll love it.  Everyone I serve it to is a convert.  Pictured is the TJ bag, while the Whole Foods maiche comes in a plastic bin and says Maiche Rosettes on it.  Hit or miss depending on your whole foods (did you know each store manager is control of their stocking strategy?)

I use a bag of maiche per every 2 people.  The Trader Joes bag is bag, so as a side salad for dinner parties it's a bag per 4 people.

In my small circle of friends I have a reputation for my salad dressing.  I think they think there is only one version because I don't offer my recipe up.  But in actuality there are many, all depending on what's at hand.  The all follow the oil & acid & sweet plan though.  I also like to add a dash of cream as it coats the leaves better.  Tonight I went for what I think is a pretty classic french vinaigrette:  for the oil I used almond oil (I prefer walnut oil, but it seems out of fashion at the moment and I haven't been able to find a bottle - I wish I could pick up more from the Santa Monica farmers market guy - that stuff was amazing) but olive oil works just as well.  The oil is costly on weight watchers - 4 points a tablespoon.  I added 1 T white wine vinegar, 1/2 T dijon mustard, 1/2 T agave (1 point), and a small clove of garlic.  I emulsified that with a  fork in a glass measuring jug.

I toss the salad leaves in the dressing before topping.  I think this serves two purposes.  First, it stretches a small amount of dressing further and applies it uniformly.  Second, I like to top the salad on the plates so that the toppings are distributed well.  When you toss everything in the bowl the good stuff always falls to the bottom.  Even if I am serving family style, I toss just the leaves with the dressing and then load the toppings over the top.  This means, if you come to my dinner party, you want the salad first before some greedy duckling has taken all those toppings.

We had a lot of extra points today since we accidentally skipped our afternoon snack, so I loaded on the walnuts and goat cheese.  I bought these red walnuts at the La Jolla farmers market and they are amazing.  Pricey at $8 a half pound, but they explode with flavor in your mouth.  10 walnut halves are a very costly 4 weight watchers points.  So you better count.  Each salad got a full ounce of goat cheese which is also about twice what you need.  I buy the honey chèvre from Trader Joes and love it.  The expiration on that is always a couple months out, so even if you can't get to TJ's often, you can stock up on this.  I made this salad for my step-father over christmas and he raved about the cheese for days.

I marinated the steak in adobo, salt and lemon juice.  Andy grilled it for a few minutes each side and then we sliced and added it to the salad.

If I stopped right there it would be a filling and nutritious dinner with about 15 weight watchers points.

But we still had 12 points left for the day, so I reached into my bag of tricks and found some cheese and leek pies I bought at the IKEA food shop a month ago.  Decadent 3.5 points each these were yummy cheesy soufflé wonderfulness.  You could always eat less than the allocated number of points on any day, but you risk your body feeling starved and turning off the magic metabolism machine.  I don't know if this is really true or how the science works, but it sounds like a lovely excuse to eat cheese and leek pies.

I often measure my success in how long it takes Andy to eat his meal.  Under ten minutes is a failure but if I can get him to still be chewing for at least ten minutes it is a success.  With a plate full of salad like this, it was a good 25 minutes til he put his fork down.  sweet success.

22 points total - 7 for the ikea pies, 6 for the steak (3.5 oz), 2 almond oil, 1 agave, 4 walnuts, 2 goat cheese

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