Dinner Rush! Steak House Chopped Salad

We’re keeping the math pretty simple this week, folks. I am such a sucker for a classic, stuffy, old-fashioned iceberg wedge salad with blue cheese dressing, and a big ol' steak dinner also happens to make me weak in the knees. What happens when we put these two wondrous creations together? BOOM! Steak House Chopped Salad night, baby!

Blue cheese dressing can do no wrong, in my eyes. It’s such a nostalgic thing for me, bringing me back to my days working on the cold prep station at my first-ever restaurant job (it was the house’s most-popular dressing). My husband, however, is not the biggest blue cheese advocate in all the land. If he had his way, we’d be enjoying a nice sharp cheddar — and a delicious salad dressing that does not make. In our house, we met in the middle with a Danish-style mild blue, but feel free to crank it up with something more pungent — like a Stilton or Roquefort — if you prefer.

As you probably already gleaned from the picture, a few key players of the quintessential steak dinner lineup are missing: namely the baked potato and heaping pile of creamed spinach. To make up for their absence — and still leave us feeling satisfied at the end of the meal — I’ve subbed in crunchy radishes, creamy avocado and sweet grape tomatoes. As always, feel free to swap out whatever vegetables you like, just keep those textures and taste sensations in mind.

All we’re missing is a hearty glass of red wine to wash it all down. Was that the sound of a popping cork I just heard?
Steak House Chopped Salad
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
1 1/2 pounds well-marbled steaks, such as hangar or flank
Salt and ground black pepper

For the dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 small shallot, finely chopped or grated
1 garlic clove, grated or pasted
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Few dashes hot sauce
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled as needed
Salt and ground black pepper
1 large head romaine, roughly chopped
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 to 5 radishes, coarsely chopped
1 ripe avocado, pitted and chopped

Place a heavy-bottom skillet or a cast-iron skillet over medium heat with the oil. Season steaks liberally with salt and pepper, and cook to desired doneness, turning once, about 5 minutes per side for medium (for a steak that is 1 inch thick). Let steaks rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

While steaks are cooking, prepare dressing; in a large mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients for dressing, and adjust seasoning as needed with salt, pepper and more lemon juice.

To serve, toss lettuce, tomatoes, radishes and avocado with prepared dressing, then divide between serving plates. Thinly slice steaks and top each salad.

NOTE: To get the best flavor out of them when preparing this dressing, it’s best (and quickest) to run the shallot and garlic over a hand-held grater. Pulverizing them like that helps to release their aromatic juices, giving all of your dressing a better flavor profile. It also keeps you from biting into a chunk of shallot or garlic while eating. Not pleasant.

Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Bobby Deen and Paula Deen, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest tweets on Twitter at  @patrickwdecker  or visiting his website at  patrickwdecker.com .

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