Not in the mood…Grilled Steak Salad with Arugula, White Beans and Shiitake

Wednesday Morning

You probably won’t believe me: I’m kind of sick of cooking. (I guess I should qualify that with a “right now”) The weekend turned out to be something of a food frenzy. Friday night Mexican Fiesta, Saturday night homemade pizza with bacon, caramelized leeks, white cheddar, bread crumbs, and arugula (while we were baking, our oven door ended up exploding — but that’s another story) followed by pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw on Memorial Day. How I love a pulled pork sandwich. Making them, however, is truly a labor of love. And though I totally love my friends, now I’m utterly wiped out. No food, no recipe, no take-out sounds good to me. Here’s Wednesday morning:

9:27 am: Rain, rain, rain, and more rain. Kids are off on the bus. And I don’t feel like cooking. Or planning a meal. Which includes even having pizza delivered. Tonight is crazy anyway. A Little League game to go to at 5:00 pm – right when I would usually be making dinner. Carpool to drive at 6:30 making a driving/cheering-on-the-team/putting-the-four-year-old-to-bed-at-a-reasonable-time a schedule from hell. What the heck am I supposed to make for dinner today!? The weather is just too gloomy to cop out completely.

10:03 am: Still don’t know. Sandwiches?! Something on the grill?! Something on the grill shoved into a sandwich?! A picnic for my Little League-er? A late dinner for the grown-ups? I hate making dinner twice. What the hell?! Still thinking…

10:24 am: Argh. Some people happily eat ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner or even peanut butter and jelly. Why can’t I do this?! Start flipping though cooking magazine…I’m sure somebody out there would be intrigued by the Spaghetti and Ratatouille but not me.

10:45 am: I think I’ll call my cousin. She is good at this kind of thing and has the added advantage of having my aunt as a resource. My aunt seems to know everything — at least everything I want to know. So I call my cousin.

My cousin: What about hotdogs?!
Me: Stop giving me a hard time!
My cousin: Lots of kids eat hotdogs. Let your kids have hotdogs for once!

First of all, this freezing weather (please note that it’s the first of June today!) just doesn’t say “hotdog” to me. Secondly, and just to be clear, I have nothing against hotdogs. I actually love eating hotdogs. But I want the good kind. Long with the snappy skin like you get in Stockholm. Ok I haven’t done exhaustive research on the availability of excellent hotdogs in Seattle but here’s my general reaction to what I’ve come across. There are the creepy, too-fat, weird looking, all beef or bison hotdogs from Whole Foods; there are Hebrew National Hotdogs; and there are Applewood Farms hotdogs. The very pinnacle of any of these offerings hovers around mediocre. If I’m eating a hot dog, please make it an extra long snappy one with hot sweet and spicy mustard or nothing. Unless I’m at a ballgame. Then I’ll eat whatever kind is on offer.

My cousin: Sigh. (I think she might be getting a tiny bit impatient) Let’s look at the Fine Cooking website. I wonder what they’re having?

She’s nailed it of course. So now I’m making Grilled Steak and Arugula Salad with White Beans and Shiitake too.  Why this seems more convenient for me or more accessible to my kids or easier or better than delivered pizza remains a mystery.

Grilled Steak Salad with Arugula, White Beans and Shiitake Mushrooms

I had to change up the recipe a little bit – it’s supposed to use leftovers and flank steak. I like skirt steak. It’s fast, it’s cheaper and I love the  chewy-tender texture. Also, I can’t help but wonder if fennel might substitute for the beans. I have a really hard time getting behind canned beans…We’ll see.

The Beans and Mushrooms

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium sized red onions, sliced thinly – about 1/8″
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

  1. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Take at least three minutes to do this. Depending on your stove and how hot it is, this might take 5 minutes.
  2. Add the olive oil, watch it shimmer. Don’t burn it but take it right up to where its about to start smoking. Add the thinly sliced onions and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Stir fairly often for 12 minutes. They should be nicely brown. if the pan starts to scorch, pull it off the heat for a minute and keep stirring
  4. Add the shiitakes and the red pepper flakes. Stir until wilted and soft, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the beans, vinegar and  thyme. Stir, scraping as much of the browned bits off the bottom of the pan as you can. Set aside.

The Salad

  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sliced shallots
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 large handfuls washed and dried arugula
  1. Whisk the vinegar, shallots and mustard together
  2. Slowly drip the olive oil into the vinegar mixture, whisking all the while to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper.

The Steak

  • 1 lb skirt steak
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  1. Mix the last 4 ingredients and put them in a ziplock bag.
  2. Half an hour before you want to grill, put the steak in the plastic bag with the marinade. Turn steak after 15 minutes to evenly marinate. Preheat your grill to high.
  3. After 30 minutes remove the steak and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp sea salt.
  4. Grill over high heat for 2-1/2 minutes per side.
  5. Sprinkle with another 1/4 tsp of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly.

To Assemble

  1. Toss the arugula with 2-3 tbsp of the dressing. Arrange in a heap on a large platter.
  2. Set the onions, mushrooms and beans on top of the arugula.
  3. Lay the skirt steak slices on top of the onions, mushrooms and beans.
  4. With a fork, scatter the sliced shallots over the steak. Drizzle the dressing over the top. You probably won’t need all of it.

Wednesday night – the rundown

Well the truth is, I don’t like canned beans and even caramelized onions and salt and mushrooms can’t disguise that the cannellini beans were canned. That being said, this is technically a lovely dinner and even with the canned beans, you could serve this for a quick mid-week meal to guests. Also, the kids liked it. Martin did say: “This doesn’t really seem like something we would eat.” though we were eating it rather happily. The fact I just wasn’t in the mood to cook probably tainted everything and there was nothing I could do to change that. So I probably won’t be adding this salad to my repertoire. Although…what if I did substitute fennel for the beans?…I might just try that!



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