Aug 12, 2009

flank steak salad with chimichurri sauce

I've grown fond of fresh parsley this summer. Until recently I had always used dried parsley from the herb rack when cooking. I might throw it in a soup or toss it on fresh pasta now and again, but honestly I didn't really know the use for it.

All that changed in May during a cooking class I took at La Cocina called Stocks, Soups, and Sauces. In the last part of the class, where we learned about sauces, a group of us made a salsa verde with fresh Italian parsley. A rustic sauce full of flavor, it was quickly chopped and mixed to use on top of grilled steaks. I couldn't believe I had never made or even heard of salsa verde. Which is why I love taking cooking classes, they help me get out of my cooking comfort zone so I can learn to make and subsequently taste new amazing food.

Since that night I've learned more about salsa verde, or green sauce as it is also called. Interestingly the sauce can be found in all parts of the world by a different name and with slight variations in the ingredients. There are the Italian, French, and German variations, the Argentinian chimichurri, and the Mexican tomatillo version, all of which (besides the Mexican recipe) are based around a mixture of fresh herbs, a bit of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

This recipe highlights the Argentinian version, a chimichurri sauce made with the basic ingredients and blended in a food processor until smooth. It provides an excellent seasoning for the steak and mixed in with the greens is a nice light dressing for the entire dish. If you don't eat meat (or even if you do) I also recommend trying this version of salsa verde from Orangette, a very flavorful way to dress up roasted potatoes.

flank steak salad with chimichurri sauce
adapted from Bon Appetit

1/2 large bunch fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, tightly packed (about 3 sprigs)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chipotle hot pepper sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2-pound flank steak
1 onion, roasted and chopped
8 ounces mixed baby greens
1 cucumber, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped

Prepare grill to cook steak. Sprinkle steak on both sides with salt and pepper; work them in with your hands; tenderize the meat. (I tenderized the meat using a meat tenderizer mallet, if you don't have one I recommend following the directions at the above link). Set meat aside until the grill is ready.

Combine parsley (with stems), oregano and garlic in a food processor. Blend until just mixed. Add olive oil, vinegar, and chipotle pepper sauce to processor and blend until smooth. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Wash and dry the salad greens.

Brush grill rack with vegetable oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Grill steak to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. At the same time roast the sliced onion on the grill. Once the onion is beginning to soften transfer to work surface and chop. Once the steak is done transfer to work surface; let it rest for 5 minutes.

Lay the greens out on a platter and top with chopped cucumber, pepper, and roasted onion. Thinly slice steak across the grain on a diagonal. Arrange steak atop salad mixture. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

This serves 4-6 as a main dish. I served it with a side of chipotle cheddar biscuits for a little more kick (recipe to come).

local ingredients:
Italian parsley, oregano, garlic, onion, cucumber, and bell pepper can be purchased fresh at the farmer's market, or at the grocery. I'm using a variety of greens from the garden, however if you are purchasing them look for organic greens and get a couple different varieties. I used Eel River Organic and Grass fed flank steak from Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley. It looks like they ship as well as service a growing number of grocery stores in the Bay Area. This meat was incredibly tasty and very lean.

alison's notes:
After reading the reviews online I decided to half this dressing (which are the instructions I've included above, along with my own other adjustments). If you decide to cook more steak, or like a lot of dressing, you can easily double the dressing.

(photography by: alison clayshulte)


Steph Bond @ Bondville said...

I can't wait to try this! Tonight's dinner sorted :) Our fave restaurant Azul in NYC made the most killer Argentinian flank steak with chimichurri sauce so I've very excited to try it out.

Alison said...

Steph - If you tried it would love to hear what you think. I'm loving this stuff these days!