Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The First Salad of Summer

Arugula from two farmers: Roquette, left, is more potent than arugula on the right

Yesterday was a perfect summer day. No clouds. Low humidity. Hot.

Ah, summer. There are so many things that are awesome about summer: hot coffee at the beginning of a hot day; tank tops; the smell of Coppertone; the promise of a day spent near the water; corn on the cob; watermelon; BLUEBERRIES!; and arugula. (Disclosure: yesterday’s designation as Perfect was likely influenced by the separate blueberry and arugula feasts I enjoyed.)

Arugula, aka Rocket, makes the list because eating it does to the mouth what jumping into a pool on a hot day does to your body. It’s a great sensation, provided you’ve got access to freshly-picked product.

I don’t bother with supermarket arugula and I would argue that no one should. It never delivers the true intensity of flavor or punch. Get your arugula from the farmer who grew it. Take it home and dress it simply with olive oil and fresh lemon juice, a sprinkle of kosher salt and a few turns of fresh ground pepper.

We ate it this way last night, with delicious skirt steak on top. It was the perfect meal for the day.

Skirt Steak on Arugula
Print recipe only here

Serves 4

• 1 ½ # skirt steak
• 3 bunches arugula
• 2 lemons
• Olive oil

Preheat grill

Lay steak on a baking sheet. Remove as much visible fat as possible. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Rinse and spin arugula.

Grill steak over medium high heat for about 7 minutes on one side and about 5-6 minutes on the other. It should be cooked medium-well for best results.*

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add:
• Juice of 2 lemons
• 5-6 T olive oil
• Pinch kosher salt
• Few turns fresh ground pepper

Take the steak off the grill and let sit for 15 minutes on a baking rack set over a sheet pan.

Slice across the grain.

Toss arugula in dressing and divide among four dinner plates. (Don’t toss the salad too early, the lemon makes the arugula wilt and while this doesn’t affect taste, it won’t look as pretty.)

Top with steak and serve immediately.

*Skirt steak has a lot of texture and tons of flavor - the polar opposite of a filet mignon which is buttery soft but has less beefy taste.

When not properly cooked or sliced it's rubbery and hard to chew. It has to be cooked toward the WELL DONE end of the spectrum or it'll be too tough.

1 comment:

Jessica Paul said...

We became addicted to arugula a few years ago after eating the best salad ever at one of our favorite restaurants, Mia Francesca. I attempted to duplicate the recipe and have come up with a pretty close copy. The dressing is almost exactly the same as yours. I top it with a mixture of chopped tomatoes that I sort of marinate in olive oil, finely chopped garlic and lots of salt until the flavors meld. So delish!!! A further variation is to pile the arugula and the tomato mixture on top of a few slices of prosciutto and top with some shaved Parmesan or on top of grilled, pounded lemon chicken breasts - paillard style. Thanks for the flank steak idea! Yum!