Salad Days of Autumn?

Arrrrggg. It’s October and our crockpots miss us. But it’s also ninety degrees in the shade and our crockpots are not ready to face that kind of silly heat. Can you blame them? The problem is that we are all craving cold weather treats, soups, stews, pot roast, chicken and dumplings – that good stuff that October signals. The other night, my son rather pitifully said he just wanted something with beef for dinner. He would have happily settled for a cheeseburger – respectable in any weather- but the challenge was on for a beef menu that was a treat to eat with the air conditioning blasting and shorts and flip flops as preferred attire. I dug up a favorite recipe of his that we hadn’t enjoyed in a long time. 

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I remember making this dish for a bunch of his friends when that list included vegans, vegetarians, and red meat lovers. I also remember that it was an amazing success. The secret is in the sauce/dressing which is a Thai inspired mix of fresh herbs, citrus, garlic, jalapeno, and salty fish sauce (unless you are vegan) that you just throw in the blender. If the fish sauce freaks you out, or you don’t have it, use soy sauce – but the fish sauce is so much better. It’s easy to find in the International aisle of any grocery, even our favorite local Bi-Rite! The delightful thing about the dressing is that it doesn’t have any oil yet still manages to be so good. It’s also a beautiful emerald color not that my family notices – but you will of course! Basically, the plan is to marinate a flank steak in soy sauce, brown sugar, and sherry. An hour works fine, but longer is better. The salad is composed of what you have on hand and in the fridge plus whatever you and your dining companions like. We used romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red pepper, red onion, corn (because it was there) and fresh tarragon (same reason).

Peanuts or cashews make a nice crunchy topping. We’ve had this salad with spinach instead of romaine, with mint and basil, because they were in season and mushrooms and cucumbers carefully hidden from my husband. One of the best parts of this menu is that if you do have picky eaters, you can arrange all of the ingredients for this meal, including the steak, and let your guests create their own masterpiece. No hiding the cucumbers required! This is a salad, so it doesn’t exactly scream fall, but there is the steak so it satisfies the craving for something – well – meaty. Plus, you can make this dinner for a lot of people with very little extra effort. It’s easy enough for a family night at home but delicious and pretty enough for company. That is the ticket for a recipe worth sharing. Hope you make Steak Salad with Thai Inspired Dressing soon and enjoy!

Steak Salad with Thai Inspired Dressing


1½ lb flank steak - marinate in 2 Tb each soy sauce, brown sugar, and sherry an hour or more

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Juice of 2 lemons

¼ cup brown sugar

1 small bunch of cilantro

1-2 Tbsp fish sauce (substitute soy sauce)

4 cloves garlic

1 jalapeno, partially seeded

1 - 2 Tbsp water

Combine in a blender or food processor.

Salad (may vary ingredients by taste and availability)

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Romaine lettuce

Red cabbage

Red onion


Fresh Herbs (tarragon, basil, mint, and/or cilantro)

Red pepper




Light grill or broiler and cook flank steak 4 -7 minutes per side or until desired doneness.

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While steak rests after grilling, combine dressing ingredients in the blender and cut vegetables for the salad – both can also be done ahead of time for ease of preparation.

Arrange salad ingredients on a large platter and slice steak into thin slices across the grain.

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Serve with dressing on the side.            

© Deer One Publishing 2019