Steak salad recipe with juicy slices of seasoned beef on a bed of colorful greens and crunchy vegetables. The pan-seared technique in a cast-iron skillet quickly cooks the meat to a perfect medium-rare. A tangy homemade balsamic dressing brings everything together.
Tender pieces of thinly sliced flank steak elevate this meal to entree salad status. With simple seasonings and a brief sear in a hot pan, dinner is ready in under 30 minutes. If you prefer, you can even fire up the grill to cook the meat.
To complement the rich flavors of the steak, a variety of lettuce are selected. Arugula, romaine, and radicchio are colorful and robust greens that stand up well to the warm beef. I’ll show you how to make an easy balsamic vinaigrette to drizzle over the salad to balance the rich and peppery flavors in the bowl.
How to make a steak salad
- Whisk balsamic vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.
- Gradually add the olive oil and whisk dressing is thickened.
- Dry the surface of the steak and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat, add oil.
- Cook steak for 4 minutes, flip and cook until medium-rare.
- Rest the steak for 10 minutes and then slice.
- In a large bowl combine the lettuce.
- Add tomatoes, cucumber, radish, onion, avocado, cheese, and meat.
- Serve with balsamic vinaigrette.
A lean, tender, and quick-cooking steak like flank steak or flat iron are optimal for this recipe. I use flank which is located below the loin and has visible grains that run down the length of the meat.
It’s a great choice for high heat and fast cooking methods like on the stovetop, grill, broiling, or stir-fry. It’s often marinated for carne asada if you want some extra flavor on the surface.
Use a heavy-duty pan like a cast-iron skillet for high heat cooking. This material holds heat effectively and for a long time, so it’s perfect for a fast golden sear on the surface. All you need is about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. You can also grill the steak over high heat uncovered for a similar duration to yield a smokey and lightly charred taste.
Slice against the grain
Make sure to slice the beef against the grain, perpendicular to the direction that the grains flow. Flank steak has coarse muscle fibers that run parallel down the meat, making it easy to see how to cut. Go for thin ¼-inch slices to make it easier to eat, or chop into smaller bite-sized cube pieces.
Choosing the right lettuce
Multiple types of lettuce are used in this hearty salad. They all have a robust and sturdy structure so they do not immediately wilt when topped with the warm food, or tossed with acidic dressing. The flavors also pair nicely with steak. Romaine is crisp with a mild flavor, raddichio is slightly bitter and a beautiful purple hue, while arugula is tender and spicy.
I make this balsamic vinaigrette recipe slightly more tangy to balance out the richness of the beef. It’s prepared with a few simple pantry ingredients like dijon mustard, a hint of mayonnaise to keep the emulsion stable, salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil. For a more creamy option, try a zesty blue cheese salad dressing.
Colorful fruits and vegetables with a variety of crunchy creamy textures make for a harmonious dish. Cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, radish, diced red onions, and big slices of avocado are added on top.
Chopped bell pepper, carrots or red cabbage are also tasty options. Feta cheese is sprinkled on top for a pungent flavor, but goat cheese or blue cheese work great as well.
This steak salad will last up to 3 days in an airtight container stored in the refrigerator. Just wait to add the dressing and whisk before serving. This low carb recipe is also ideal for meal prepping individual portions throughout the week.
More classic salad recipes
When to stop cooking the steak
Target medium-rare doneness, taking the meat off once it hits an internal temperature of 120 to 125°F (49 to 52ºC). This may seem early, but the 10 minutes of rest will allow for carryover cooking to occur. The meat should reach about 130ºF (54ºC). Overcooking the steak will result in tough and chewy pieces.
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- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon mayonnaise, optional
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound flank steak, or flat iron steak
- kosher salt, for seasoning
- black pepper, for seasoning
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups arugula, 1-inch pieces
- 4 cups romaine lettuce
- 2 cups radicchio, 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- ½ cup thinly sliced cucumber
- ¼ cup thinly sliced radish
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- 1 medium avocado, sliced or diced
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- In a medium bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.
- Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until it becomes a thickened emulsified dressing.
- Dry the surface of the steak with paper towels.
- Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot. Add the oil, once the oil is hot add the steak and press it down into the pan. Cook until the surface is browned, 4 minutes.
- Flip the steak and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 120 to 125°F (49 to 52ºC) for medium-rare, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Transfer the steak to a cutting board and rest for 10 minutes. Slice the steak against the grain into ¼-inch thick pieces. Cut smaller if desired.
- In a large serving bowl mix together the arugula, romaine, and radicchio.
- Top salad with tomatoes, cucumber, radish, onion, steak, avocado, and feta cheese.
- Serve steak salad with balsamic vinaigrette.
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