Steak is one of the easiest proteins to prepare for one. They sell as one unit, or two if you're feeling rather carnivorous that week. They prepare simply as one and you don't have to deal with difficult recipe halving. This particular salad is a favorite of mine. It's filling yet light and prepares quick. If you don't want to make a dish, use the grill instead. Because the steak makes it a little more hearty, this is a great salad year-round. The marinade is very tasty and doubles as the salad dressing.
When shopping for steak, stick with your budget. You don't have to shovel $20 out for the best looking NY Strip. You want your steak to look good but don't break the bank, especially for a weeknight salad for one. You want to look for a cut that is large enough to fill you up, generally 6-8 ounces, and you want it to be a little thicker so that you get those juicy strips. Strip, Hanger, Flat Iron or Flank Steak are all good options. They vary in price as well so you should be able to find a good one for your budget. You don't want to get one too thick so stay away from Filet Mignon and you don't want a bone so stay away from Ribeyes. A little marbling is ok but too much will make it difficult to slice. I bought a strip steak because they were on sale and looked really great at the butcher counter.
Since it's summertime, I wanted the salad portion of this meal to be light and fresh. I kept it simple with lettuce, sliced radishes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber halves and sliced carrots. The radishes have a bite of flavor, tomatoes a sweet acidity, cucumber freshness and carrots sweetness and crunch. The balsamic dressing is sweet but tart and definitely velvety. Since you use the dressing as your marinade, it really pulls everything together beautifully.
BALSAMIC STEAK SALAD
1 steak (Strip, Hanger, Flat Iron or Flank)
1 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp. Honey
1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 cups Lettuce
2 Radishes, sliced
1/4 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup Cucumber, halved then sliced
1/4 cup Carrots, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. Goat Cheese Crumbles
1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together balsamic vinegar, honey and dijon mustard until emulsified. Add in one tablespoon of olive oil at a time until completely mixed together and there is no separation.
2. Place the steak and 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette in a seal-able bag. Remove as much air as possible and seal close. Squish around to coat the steak with the dressing. Let sit 30 minutes at room temperature.
3. Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over high heat. Season the steak on both sides with salt and pepper. Place into the skillet when thoroughly heated. Let cook about 8 minutes and flip. Cook another 8 minutes until caramelized on both sides. Remove to a cutting board and let sit before slicing.
4. While the steak rests, prepare your salad. On top of your greens, add the radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots. Toss. Top with sliced steak, goat cheese and a drizzle of the leftover balsamic vinaigrette. Serve.
If you choose to make this when it's cooler out, increase the comfort factor by mixing salad with a cup of pasta. It will be half salad/half pasta mixture so you're still getting all of that veggie goodness but it's just a tad more satisfying and filling for a cold fall or winter night.