We've been eating a lot of salads lately. Maybe that doesn't make much sense, with the inflation rate up 3% right now, and produce up 16%.
Gosh, am I ever eager for the growing months. Our little makeshift greenhouse has been a huge help, but even so, I can't keep it going all year round.
Honestly, we are looking into an indoor greenhouse for the winter months. Even a table of salad greens in the basement would help. And it would be healthier, by far. I just can't wait for my garden....
A few years ago Jim built me a box by the garage, where I could keep some herbs, tomatoes, and some lettuce, along with a few flowers, of course. There was more down at the garden, but it was very handy to be able to just step outside to grab the finishing touches for a meal.
Then three years ago, we were away in September, and the last of the things there either froze or bolted. But the next spring I was so excited when lettuce shot up like a green carpet, filling the box well before anything else had gotten green. I was eating fresh, garden greens
much earlier than I ever had before, and it was all by letting nature take its course.
So in the big garden last fall, we didn't pull the last of the lettuces, kale, spinach, chard, rocket, etc. We let what was left all go to seed, and left it where it stood. I am eagerly anticipating that fresh greenery in a few months.
For now, though, it's the grocery store for us.
I'll share a bunch of my favourite salad recipes when they're in season... but for now, just a few of the ones we've made recently. These ones are supper salads with steak in them - and I know meat prices are up, too, but we just bought half a beef from my parents' organic farm. (Bulk pricing is the way to go!)
Steak n Egg Salad
This salad can be served warmed - just toss the spinach into the pan with the vegetables for a few moments to wilt and warm - or cold. Or, do what I did this time, and serve the warmed vegetable medley, the hot steak and the hot egg on top of the crisp, just-dressed spinach.
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 steak - I used sirloin - brought to room temperature
- 1 purple onion, sliced
- 1 1/2 c sliced mushrooms
- orange & yellow peppers
- 8-10 cups spinach
- an egg per person
- 2 tsps butter
- salt and pepper
- garlic powder
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1 T dijon mustard,
- 1 T white wine vinegar
- 2 clove garlic, minced
- 3T olive oil
- salt and pepper
Make the dressing and toss desired amount with your spinach. The rest won't take long!
Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Blot the room temperature steak with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, and season liberally with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Drop a tsp of butter in the pan and as soon as it melts, put in the steak. Sear the steak in the hot oil for 3 minutes on one side - DON'T move it or poke it or cut it, or you'll lose the moisture and won't get a nice sear. Then another 2 minutes on the other side for rare, 3 for medium. Remove it to a plate and tent with a piece of tinfoil - this will help the juices redistribute through the meat and make it juicy and tender. Remember, don't cut into it - you'll lose all that juiciness!
Next, add the onion to the pan and sauté until translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they release their liquid. Then add the peppers and cook until tender-crisp.
Meanwhile, slow-fry the eggs. Melt the butter over LOW heat, gently add the eggs and let them gently fry. You shouldn't hear a pop or sizzle, and you shouldn't get much - if any - browning on the underside of the white. Cook until the white is set, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. This is the proper French way to fry an egg, and you should definitely try it. (The French way includes drizzling hot butter on top of the white at the end, to help it set.)
Slice your steak across the grain, then assemble the salad. You can layer it all as pictured above, or toss it together as below and add your fried eggs to each plate as you serve the salad.
Variations: Use some fajita seasonings on the steak, like cayenne, cumin and coriander, and add some salsa or hot sauce for serving.
You can also change the dressing by replacing the olive oil with the slightly cooked-down drippings from the pan after the steak is seared and the vegetables are sautéed. Delicious!