March 7, 2012

steak and blue cheese salad with balsamic glazed walnuts

Once in awhile I get to work from home when I have a lot of website updating to do for my company. This happened last week, and since I was home all day I planned a romantic dinner to surprise my husband when he got home from work.

It was fun to figure out what I wanted to make, set the table, get all dressed up, turn off the lights and wait for him to walk in the door. Then seeing the look on his face was priceless.

This beautiful steak salad is served on a bed of mixed greens with dried cranberries, balsamic glazed walnuts and topped with a homemade buttermilk blue cheese dressing. Um yes.

The walnuts are a nice touch. They are coated in a mixture of honey and balsamic vinegar, then laid on a sheet pan to harden. They add crunch and sweetness, plus tons of flavor.

Whether this meal is for your family, friends or a romantic way to surprise your loved one.. I know it will be a huge hit.

Side note: If you are wondering about the interesting wine bottle, it's a special bottle shaped like the Fenwick Island Lighthouse from a local winery here in Southern Delaware, Fenwick Wine Cellars. The wine is called Reflections of Fenwick. It's a special blend and tastes sweet with hints of citrus and spice. One of my favorites!

Steak and Blue Cheese Salad with Balsamic Glazed Walnuts

Serves 2 (with some walnuts and dressing left over)

For the Salad:
1 pre-washed bag of Spring Mix salad greens
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Balasmic Glazed Walnuts (recipe below)
Seared Sirloin Steak (recipe below)
Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing (recipe below)

Separate greens evenly between 2 plates. Sprinkle dried cranberries and walnuts evenly over each salad. Lay thinly sliced steak on top, and drizzle dressing to taste. Serve immediately.

For the Steak:
1 pound sirloin steak
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Season both sides of the steak liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a medium skillet on high until very hot, but don't let the oil burn. Drop the heat a bit, and put the steak in the hot oil. Let it cook (don't touch it!) for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the steak has a nice sear. The steak will be medium. If you want medium-well, cook it for a few more minutes. Take the steak out of the pan and sit it on a cutting board. Allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before making thin slices to put on the salad.

For the Dressing:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise and vinegar until combined. Add the blue cheese and stir until incorporated. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. Dressing can be made up to three days in advance

For the Walnuts:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 cup walnut halves

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, stir together sugar, honey, olive oil and balsamic vinegar until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes or until the syrup begins to bubble and thicken.

Stir in walnuts. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes or until the walnuts are coated with a thick and sticky glaze. Turn out onto the lined baking sheet. Using a silicone spatula, spread the walnuts out into a single layer, separating into individual pieces as much as possible. Let cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container lined with paper towel. You may need to break the walnuts apart a bit before putting them in the container. Walnuts can be prepared up to three days in advance, or serve them on this salad once they are cooled and hardened.

Salad Dressing and Walnut recipe adapted from Crumb Blog.