It started with lunch at Gus's, a Canberra institution. (Anything that's been around for more than 40 years in Canberra is kind of a phenomenon, and an institution by default, but it's deserved in Gus's case.) It's the kind of place where I know Miss B is going to want pasta or risotto, which I will often split with her, since I'm almost always in the mood for carbs and she can't eat a whole adult portion. But then I saw "chili beef salad" on the specials menu. For some reason, that magical combination of words was enough to make me give carbs the cold shoulder, and cozy up to the red meat and spice and the cool, crunchy salad vegetables. It was such a great contrast, and such a flavorful—and filling!—meal that I couldn't stop thinking about it. Then there it was again, a couple of weeks later, at a different restaurant: this time with peppery beef and shavings of parmesan along with the vegetables. It was offered as a starter, but it was all I wanted for lunch.
Yesterday I made my own. I had some leftover steak in the fridge, along with some marinade-turned-sauce*, which I used to help concoct a weird but tasty dressing.
Carnivore beef salad
This salad provides a lot of scope for improvisation. I used what I had on hand, but just some of the things I thought of adding if I'd had them were: chunks of avocado; slices of red onion (raw or caramelized); toasted nuts (pine, walnut); croutons.
1 Tbsp steak marinade/sauce
2-3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 inch/2 cm knob of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into strips
Pinch brown sugar
2-3 cups salad greens
8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
6-8 thin slices cooked steak (about 2 oz/60 g)
Hunk of parmesan/pecorino + vegetable peeler
Put all dressing ingredients into a mini-processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside for a moment.
Assemble greens, tomatoes, and steak in a good-sized bowl. Pour about half of dressing over and mix. Decide if you need more dressing (yes), and add more to taste.
Shave thin slices of cheese and grate pepper all over surface of salad. Either serve as is, or mix in and repeat this step a couple of times.
Serves 1, very satisfyingly.
* I used this marinade from The Pioneer Woman Cooks! (although I substituted red wine for cooking sherry), and reduced it to use as a sauce as Ree suggests.
** Between the soy in the marinade/sauce and the cheese, I didn't feel the need for any extra salt. You may want some, depending on your ingredients.