We didn't eat out much when I was a kid, but when we did – whether we went to Applebee's or Carson's Ribs or the nearest diner – we almost always started with a "house salad," invariably consisting of chunks of iceberg lettuce sprinkled with grated carrots or rounds of cucumber and maybe a few slices of red onion. When the server asked what dressing I wanted with it, for as long as I can remember, I always replied:
"Blue cheese, please."
It wasn't until I was older that I discovered some people don't care for the fun and funky flavor of blue cheese. (If that's you, read on because I've got a suggestion for what you can use instead!)
I also discovered, as a young adult, that blue cheese is the default dressing on the steakhouse salad commonly known as "the wedge": A quarter of a head of iceberg lettuce, held intact at the stem end – looking roughly like an actual melting iceberg – blanketed with blue cheese dressing, dotted with bits of bacon and chives and sometimes juicy tomato chunks.
Served in this format, iceberg, which I've heard described as "crunchy water," is surprisingly satisfying. I love how it mellows the sharpness of the cheese, while the bacon adds another dimension. Especially when it's made with summer tomatoes, it's a perfect salad, if you ask me.
The steakhouse classic was the inspiration behind this salad, which combines the flavors in a wedge salad – crunchy iceberg, tomatoes, chives and blue cheese dressing – with slices of seared steak and blistered green beans.
In cooler months, I make this on my stove top, but in the heat of summer, take a cast-iron skillet out to the grill and use those flames to sear a New York strip. Once it comes out of the pan, add a pile of green beans and let them blister until they're tender with some black spots.
While the steak and green beans cook, make the dressing: It's a mix of yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, minced chives and crumbled blue cheese.
To serve, pile the lettuce onto a platter, add halved cherry tomatoes and blistered green beans. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over everything – this extra bit of seasoning really perks things up. Then, slice the steak and let people serve themselves. I highly recommend you serve the sauce on the side, so everyone can dip everything into the creamy, salty, super-funky blue cheese dressing.
Steak Salad With Blue Cheese Dressing
(From staff writer G. Daniela Galarza)
Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes
A play on a steakhouse classic, the wedge salad, this version calls for chopping the iceberg, which then gets topped with slices of seared New York strip. The secret to cooking a great steak in a pan is to cook it in its own fat: Render the fat cap until it's crispy before searing the meat on both sides. Then, cook green beans in the same fat until they're blistered.
I've got some good news if you don't like blue cheese: Leave it out of the dressing and add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder or a minced garlic clove, a couple of tablespoons of minced parsley and dill, and call it ranch! You could also serve this salad with a straightforward vinaigrette.
If you don't eat red meat, this will work just as well with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or breasts, cooked until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 165 degrees.
If you don't eat meat, omit the steak and sear some sliced mushrooms until they turn crisp; season them with a small splash of soy sauce at the end.
I skipped the bacon in this mash-up steak salad, but you could certainly add it if you wanted to. Other good additions: slices of red onion, pickled shallots, shredded carrots, chunks of cucumber, fresh basil, parsley or dill.
For the steak and green beans
1 (12- to 15-ounce) New York strip steak, at least 1-inch thick, ideally with a fat cap
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided
10 to 12 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed
For the salad and dressing
4 to 5 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mustard, preferably Dijon
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 small bunch (about 20) chives, minced (1/4 cup) and divided
1 small head (10 to 12 ounces) iceberg lettuce, chopped
2 ounces (about 2 well-packed cups) mixed greens (optional)
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
Flaky sea salt, to taste (optional)
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, on the stove or a grill, for 1 minute. Season the steak on all sides with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Using tongs, stand the steak on its narrow side in the pan, fat side down, to render some of the fat, 1 to 2 minutes.
Lay the steak down into its fat and cook, undisturbed, until it's well browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until well browned but still slightly red in the center, 2 to 3 minutes. (Continue cooking for an additional 3 to 5 minutes if you'd like it well done.) Reduce the heat to low and use tongs to transfer the steak to a cutting board and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil or a plate to keep warm.
Add the green beans to the skillet, and raise the heat to high. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and saute, stirring until blistered and darkened in some places, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the blue cheese, yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and about half of the minced chives and stir with a spoon until combined.
To serve: In a large, wide bowl or serving platter, combine the iceberg, mixed greens, if using, cherry tomatoes and green beans and sprinkle in the remaining chives. Slice the steak against the grain and lay it on top. Sprinkle with the flaky sea salt, if using. Serve the steak and salad with the dressing on the side.
Nutrition per serving (about 2 cups of salad and green beans and about 3 ounces of steak), based on 4 | Calories: 367; Total Fat: 23 g; Saturated Fat: 8 g; Cholesterol: 86 mg; Sodium: 989 mg; Carbohydrates: 12 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 7 g; Protein: 29 g.
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian's or nutritionist's advice.