California steak salad: loaded with tender steak, crunchy greens, juicy strawberries, tangy goat cheese, and topped with a bright, zingy citrus vinaigrette.
The weather here today says that winter is back. It’s dreary, rainy, and cold, but the calendar says spring and I can think of no better way to welcome in the new season than with this deliciously fresh, locally sourced, California steak salad.
My favorite part about planning a salad for a meal is that it works best when you plan on the fly. Going to the store without having a concrete plan allows you to incorporate the freshest ingredients into your dish. You get to hand select items based on availability, instead of what your list says. It may not be the quickest trip to the store or farmer’s market, but the best inspiration for a salad is seeing what is in season.
When it comes to selecting the produce I buy, one of my top priorities is purchasing something grown here in California. My second priority is buying something that appears fresh and ripe. Considering that California farmers produce nearly half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts that are grown in the USA and that they are found all over the state, it’s an easy task to do.
Why do I find it so important? Short answer: the economy and the environment.
The economy: From cattle ranchers to dairy farmers and avocados to wine grapes, our state farmers and ranchers generate $100 billion in economic activity for the state. California farming is one of the largest employers in the state and is a vital part of our local communities. As the farmers provide food for our tables, I feel it’s only right to support them by prioritizing my selections to food grown right here at home.
The environment: As we all know, California has been suffering through a terrible drought over the past few years. Even with the recent el nino related downpours, we still have a long way to go on the road to recovery. In order to maintain the ability to feed not just Californians but the country as a whole, our farmers have gone to great lengths to find innovative ways to use and conserve water. Without water there is no food, so the efforts they put forth to conserve what we do have should be rewarded.
When seeking out the ingredients for this California steak salad I knew it would include two things. My homemade citrus vinaigrette dressing and a thick cut of steak. The first thing I spotted was the display of organic strawberries. They looked perfectly ripe and tasted like summer. Next I saw California avocados on sale for $1.50 each. Avocados, strawberries, and goat cheese is one of my favorite combinations, so they went in the cart as well.
Considering the flavors I was working with so far, I knew I didn’t want a spicy base, so arugula and mustard greens are out. After perusing the leafy greens I decided to go with spinach and red leaf lettuce. I chose mature spinach with leaves the size of your hand to provide crunch, and the red leaf lettuce to add a light crispness and a bit of color. I also grabbed some cilantro for an added kick of flavor and some gorgeous ruby red tangelos for dressing.
Next, I headed to the meat department for the steak part of this California steak salad. I selected a locally sourced, half pound petite fillet which I partially chose it because it was 1 1/2″ thick. When slicing a steak for a salad, I prefer bites that are big enough to savor without needing a steak knife to eat them. The proportions of this steak were ideal and since I only need about 4 ounces of steak for this salad I knew I would have enough leftover for lunch the next day as well.
The last thing I had to grab was a good quality goat cheese. It required another stop to get the one I want, but I was able to find it! It’s distributed by Trader Joe’s and comes from a dairy in Sonoma, CA. The cheese is soft with just the right amount of tang. It’s a bit on the wet side so it doesn’t crumble like many goat cheeses, but this helps it stick to your other ingredients instead of ending up in the bottom of the bowl.
By the time I got home I was starving! I cooked the steak using the reverse sear method, which is outlined in the recipe below. For more info about reverse searing, check out this steak post and forgive me for the photos. I’ll get them updated soon! Don’t forget to adjust the cooking time based on your preference of doneness. While the steak is cooking, wash and prep your fruits and vegetables.
As in most salads, the quantities for this California steak salad are suggestions and you can adjust to your needs. The recipe below includes the measurement of the ingredients I used when assembling this salad, which makes 1 lunch-sized portion.
I’ve listed the recipe for the dressing separately from the rest of the salad. The recipe makes just under 1 cup of dressing and will keep for at least a week in the fridge.
I use about 2 tablespoons on this salad and many times use the leftovers to marinate chicken or pork chops for a later meal. Food safety first: discard any dressing that comes into direct contact with raw chicken or pork.
Check out the full recipe below and next time you are in the produce section make sure to check the source for your fruits and vegetables. When you’ve finished being healthy and decide it’s time for dessert, don’t forget that California dairy farmers are the leading producer of ice cream as well!! To learn more about California farming and ranching check out Cultivate California.
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California Steak Salad
California Steak Salad Citrus Vinaigrette Dressing
- 10 ounces of steak
- 8 cups spinach
- 6 cup red leaf lettuce
- 2 cups cilantro leaves
- 8 large strawberries - sliced
- 1 avocado - sliced
- 1/4 cup sweet onion - sliced
- 2 ounces soft goat cheese
Citrus Vinaigrette Dressing
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh ruby orange juice
- 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- 1 TBSP honey
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp dried dill
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- dash of garlic powder
Cook the steak:
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper and place in a cold cast iron skillet that has been lightly oiled with olive oil.
- Bake 10 - 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees.
- Remove from the oven and place steak on a plate or clean cutting board.
- Heat skillet over high heat. Once it's hot place the steak back into the pan and sear the top and bottom for about 60 seconds each side. The final internal temperature should be around 130 degrees for medium to medium rare.
Prepare the salad:
- Wash all fruits and vegetables.
- Tear spinach and lettuce into manageable pieces. Remove stems from the cilantro. Slice strawberries and avocado. Roughly chop onion. Measure out goat cheese.
- Thinly slice steak against the grain. Toss together greens. Layer on strawberries, avocado, onion, and steak. Pinch off chunks of goat cheese and drizzle with dressing to finish.
- Enjoy immediately.
- I've listed the recipe for the dressing separately from the rest of the salad. The recipe makes just under 1 cup of dressing and will keep for at least a week in the fridge. I use about 2 tablespoons on this salad and many times use the leftovers to marinate chicken or pork chops for a later meal. Food safety first: discard any dressing that comes into direct contact with raw meat.
- Combine all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl.
- Whisk to combine.
- Drizzle over the California Steak Salad, or other salad of your choice.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.