You’re going to love so many things about this steak salad! Juicy, flavorful steak, savory-sweet roasted cherry tomatoes, luscious avocado and jammy eggs. It’s delicious and filling, good for you AND it comes together quickly- which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner!
Do You Think There’s Something Special About Restaurant Salads?
Me too! I used to think it was just because someone else was making it for me. Like, when I was a kid and my mom would pack my lunch. Her sandwiches had some kind of mom-magic-deliciousness going on that I could never replicate when I made one myself.
Then one day I watched her make my lunch. She buttered the bread before adding mustard and mayo- she explained that the butter created a barrier that kept the bread from getting soggy. Then she pulled a few layers of iceberg lettuce out of the Tupperware Crisp-It lettuce keeper- because crisping the lettuce really does make a difference. And she always had the salami and cheese thinly sliced (not shaved, but very thin) because she knew it tasted better that way. The sandwich wasn’t fancy and there was no voodoo involved.
Her magic was forethought and technique.
So, if you’ve ever thought that restaurant salads are so good because of some kind of unattainable salad-voodo I’m here to tell you there’s no reason you can’t make them yourself! It just requires a little forethought and technique 🙂
What’s In The Salad?
The ingredients are listed here but, like my childhood sandwich, the key is what you DO with each ingredient. The tomatoes and the eggs are things I like to make extra of because they’re great to have on hand for other meals throughout the week.
- Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Jammy Eggs
- Goat Cheese
- Leaf Lettuce
- Balsamic Vinaigrette or Coffee Vinaigrette (don’t you love choices?)
What Kind Of Steak Should You Use?
Because you’re serving a smaller portion of steak, you want something with BIG steak flavor.
A juicy flat iron is my first choice here. Flat irons are rectangular shaped, well marbled and very tender with great, beefy flavor. They cook quickly and are best cooked to medium-rare (medium if you prefer less pink, but no more than that). I like to grill them but if that’s not an option they’re great cooked on the stove top, too.
The Secret Ingredient You Need In Your Life
If you like having a “secret umami weapon” in your foodie arsenal I’d like to introduce you to Red Boat Salt. Maybe you’ve heard of it? I first spotted this flavor powerhouse during a shopping trip to World Market and couldn’t resist bringing it home with me. It’s a sibling of Red Boat fish sauce so prepare yourself, it IS a fish flavored salt.
I know. It sounds gross. And when you first smell it your expectations are confirmed- it’s funky! BUT- when you cook with it? It adds this delicious, deep umami flavor to meat and veggies alike that doesn’t taste at all like fish.
I promise. Everything you use it on will just taste BETTER.
Rub it into steak, pot-roast, chicken thighs or pork chops before cooking. Sprinkle over veggies before roasting. You’ll be so happy you did. We’re going to rub it into our flat Irons for this recipe. If you don’t have it- or I didn’t convince you that fishy-salt belongs in your life :)- you can use regular kosher salt.
*Use less of it than you would regular kosher salt. And only use it pre-cooking, never as a finishing salt because the flavor would be too strong.
How Do You Make Jammy Eggs?
Jammy eggs are creamy and wonderful and I love including them in salads. I like this method for Perfect Easy To Peel Eggs, and cook them for 8 minutes. You can make them ahead (I usually have a couple sitting in my fridge). If you’ve made them ahead you’ll want to put them in a small bowl covered with warm water for a few minutes before serving so that their yolks return to their creamy texture.
Have You Had Roasted Cherry Tomatoes?
These little cherry tomatoes are literally flavor bombs! Roasting them intensifies their tomato flavor (like a sundried tomato) while keeping them juicy (like a fresh tomato). It’s the best of both worlds, really, and they elevate any salad you put them on!
They’re so simple to make- pop them in the oven first thing when you start prepping your dinner and they’ll be ready to add to your finished salad.
- Preheat your oven to 350°f
- Place cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and shake the pan gently to coat tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and cracked pepper
- Roast tomatoes for 30 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, until they’re wrinkled and oozing a little of their juice onto the pan
I make extra and keep them in a little container in the fridge to use on other things throughout the week. They’re awesome on avocado toast- maybe with a jammy egg? YUM!
What’s In The Dressing?
I never buy salad dressing because making it yourself is so simple PLUS you know exactly what’s in it. Salad dressings are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to sneaky ingredients that can undo all of the good you’re putting into that salad bowl.
For this salad I’m partial to either my basic balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below) or this Coffee Vinaigrette from BonAppetit. I use extra virgin olive oil and sometimes I’ll mix it 50-50 with avocado oil for a milder flavor.
Here’s what you’ll need for each:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Dijon Mustard
- Salt and Pepper
To make my basic balsamic vinaigrette you’ll whisk everything but the olive oil in a small bowl until combined. Then gradually drizzle in the olive oil while whisking until it’s thick and emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings. I like to use both balsamic and red wine for this but you can use all balsamic if you prefer.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sherry Vinegar
- Instant Espresso
- Salt and Pepper
This coffee vinaigrette is fantastic! It doesn’t scream COFFEE- but you’ll notice an earthiness at the end that you can’t quite put your finger on. Follow the same method as the balsamic, whisking everything but the olive oil together first and then gradually whisking in the olive oil. This one doesn’t get thick like the balsamic and will separate as it sits. Just whisk again before using or keep in a little jar with a tight fitting lid and shake it up.
Assembling Your Salad
Get four plates ready and build your salads:
This is important- make sure your greens are washed and patted dry (this is the salad equivalent of buttering the sandwich bread). If they’re still wet you’ll have a soggy salad and you don’t want that!
Seasoning the greens is something I’ve started doing recently and it’s one of the reasons restaurant salads taste so good. Arrange a portion of your greens in the center of each plate and drizzle VERY lightly with olive oil…like literally just a tiny bit (maybe 1/2 teaspoon). Sprinkle with a pinch of salt (flakes if you have the, otherwise kosher) and toss gently with your hands.
Fan 1/2 of a sliced avocado over some of the greens, cut an egg in half and place next to the avocado. Sprinkle 1/4 of the cucumber slices over the center, and follow with 1/4 of the roasted tomatoes and 2 Tablespoons of the goat cheese.
Slice your steak across the grain and at a slight angle. Fan a few slices over the center and drizzle lightly with some of the dressing. Sprinkle with flakey salt and coarse cracked pepper if desired. When you season your greens first you’ll find that you need less dressing so I prefer to very lightly drizzle some vinaigrette over the salad before serving and let people add more dressing to their preference.
Now it’s time to dig in- no salad-voodo required! Because we all deserve CRAVEABLE, good for the body & soul salad deliciousness in our lives!
- 1 to 1 1/2 lb flat iron steak
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (preferably on-the-stem-type)
- 2 avocados, halved and sliced
- 1/2 cucumber, cut into thin strips
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
- mixed salad greens (I like baby spinach and a mix of leaf lettuces)
- Red Boat salt or Kosher Salt
- Cracked Pepper
- Olive oil
Dressing of choice
- Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette (see notes)
- Coffee Vinaigrette (see notes)
- Preheat oven to 350. Season steak with Red Boat Salt or kosher salt and let stand at room temperature until ready to grill.
- Make roasted tomatoes: Place cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked pepper, turning to coat. Roast tomatoes 30 minutes, shaking pan halfway through, until tomatoes are semi wrinkled and some of them have split open. Set aside.
- Make Jammy Eggs while the tomatoes roast: Bring several inches of water to a boil in a sauce pan fitted with a steamer basket. Once it boils place eggs in the steamer basket and close the lid. After 8 minutes move eggs from pan into a bowl of ice water and let cool 15 minutes before peeling.
- Make dressing of your choice (ingredients for both options are in notes): Whisk all ingredients except for oil in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil until emulsified. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Cook the steak either on the grill or stove-top in a heavy pan (cast iron works great). If cooking in a pan, coat your pan with 1 Tablespoon of oil. You'll cook at a fairly high heat, only turning once, for 3-5 minutes per side depending on the desired final temp. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing across the grain at a slight angle. *See notes for steak temps*
- Build your salads: While the steak rests divide salad greens between 4 plates. Drizzle each serving with a tiny bit of olive oil (about 1/2 tsp) and season lightly with salt (preferable flaky salt) and cracked pepper. Divide cucumbers, roasted tomatoes and goat cheese over the center. Arrange 1/2 of an avocado and 2 egg halves off to the side of each salad. Divide steak slices between salads, fanning over the top. Drizzle lightly with dressing and pass the rest at the table.
*You can make the eggs, roasted tomatoes and salad dressing up to a week ahead for an even faster meal
- For Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette: Whisk 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, and a pinch each kosher salt and cracked pepper in a bowl. Gradually drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil while whisking constantly until mixture is thick and emulsified. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
- For Coffee Vinaigrette: whisk 3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon instant espresso until espresso is dissolved. Gradually drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil while whisking constantly. season to taste with salt and pepper. This dressing will stay fairly thin.
- Flat iron steak is best medium rare to medium (130°f - 140°f), more than medium and it will be chewy. For best results remove steak from heat 5 degrees lower than your desired final temperature. The temperature will rise 5 degrees while your steak rests and this will also allow the juices to flow back into the meat. Don't skip this step.
- Click here for more detailed instructions on steaming perfect easy to peel eggs.