Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Steak and Warm Spinach Salad

My mom used to make a hot bacon dressing that she's serve over baby dandelion greens. The greens would wilt to a half-cooked state and it was tart and savory and wonderful.

That salad was memorable because it was a once-a-year treat, since the dandelions had to be harvested before they flowered and before my dad went rampaging through the lawn with weed killer.

Once the dandelions flowered, mom said they were bitter and inedible. But they never really got that far because dad had plenty of weed killer and garden tools for digging.

Some years, he brought out the weed killer before mom made her request for the dandelion greens, and she'd ask friends about the state of their lawns. They were more than happy to let her pull some weeds. Probably very puzzled at her request.

Years later, I found out that hot bacon dressing is commonly used on spinach salads. Or other hearty greens. So you don't actually need to wait until that perfect moment for dandelion picking. Then again, these days I've seen dandelion greens at the store on occasion. Not that I've been tempted to buy them. For me, it's all about the dressing.

Meanwhile, a new store opened up here in Longmont called Frontiere Natural Meats. They sell all sorts of organic and natural meats, including bison, elk, beef, chicken, and pork. I might have missed something, but that seems like most of it.

Like a good food blogger, I stopped in, peered around, and had a chat. I might be doing some regular recipes for them, in exchange for some meat products. Sounds like a fair deal, right? We eat meat.

For the first recipe, they asked if I could come up with a salad recipe with meat served on top, and the first thing I thought of was spinach salad with hot bacon dressing. And the second thing I thought of was not-bacon dressing. Since bison is so lean, I decided to omit the bacon and use olive oil instead. It's still a very tasty salad with a warm dressing. And with some added ingredients that weren't in the original. Because where's the fun in that?

Bison Ribeye with Hot Spinach Salad
Depending on your appetite, this salad will serve one or two. French fries or boiled baby potatoes make a nice accompaniment to this salad.

For the steak:
1 bison ribeye steak
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil, as needed

For the spinach salad:
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in bite-sized chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
10 ounces baby spinach

Salt and pepper the ribeye, then heat a cast iron frying pan on medium-high heat. Drizzle a little olive oil on the steak, then place it in the hot pan. Sear on the first side, then flip and sear on the second side. Continue cooking until the steak is done to your liking - but remember that it will cook just a little more as it rests.

When the meat is done, transfer to a plate and cover loosely while you prepare the salad.

Heat a saute pan on medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the mushrooms, bell pepper, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper, to taste. If you're not sure, a pinch of each would be fine. Cook, stirring as needed until the mushrooms loose their liquid and then it disappears again and the vegetables are in a mostly-dry pan.

Meanwhile, combine the wine vinegar, olive oil, and sugar (if you want a less-tart dressing) in a small bowl.

Add the spinach to the pan followed by the oil and vinegar mixture. Add the red pepper flakes, if desired. Use tongs to turn the spinach over a few times, just until it is wilted, but still bright green.

Arrange the spinach salad on a large plate, then slice the steak and serve it on top of the salad.

Frontiere Natural Meats provided me with meat so I could develop this recipe.