Steak and Spinach salad with Tomato Vinagrette

I’m still on my summer cooking kick. It’s just so. dang. hot. here. This is the first time I’ve ever lived without air conditioning, and I’m realizing how little my cooking has changed seasonally. When I sit down to plan my meals, the things that keep coming to mind are roast chicken and pot roast and yet, those don’t sound so appealing to make in an 80 degree house. Oh what I wouldn’t give for a grill right about now, but Bear the Grillmaster wants a fancy grill or none at all, and a fancy grill is just not going to happen this summer.

A while back I ordered a salad at a local upscale pub/brewing house type restaurant and absolutely loved it. So once again, I tried to copy.

Tresa’s Steak and Spinach salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

2 bunches of fresh spinach leaves
8 oz of Gorgonzola cheese
small pack of sliced almonds
1 pint of grape tomatoes
1 red onion, chopped
a big hunk of beef

Wash all the vegetables, cut the stems off the spinach, and toss everything together in a bowl. For the beef, the best results would be to grill up a couple of steaks, slice them up, and throw them into the salad. Since I am lacking the grill, I actually pan fried the steaks. It was not wonderful, but it was fine.

Tomato Vinaigrette
2 T olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
3 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 C red wine
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil, onion, and garlic and sweat on low heat until the onions are translucent. Add all the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Refrigerate until cool, then toss with the salad.

I think this is best served with the dressing cool, and the steak hot, so prepare the dressing ahead of time. Also, this makes a ton of dressing (because 1/2 a can of tomato sauce in the fridge is only asking for trouble, but extra dressing is manageable) so taste as you toss. The finished dressing is chunky and thick and bears a strong resemblance to marinara sauce, so Bear poured it on his salad like he would his pasta and ended up scraping the stuff off his spinach leaves. Use caution.

I really love this dressing because it is so strongly flavored. I usually have mixed feelings about meat in my salads. So often chicken is just tossed on top of any old thing just to give you the protein, but it just doesn’t belong there. At least chicken is mellow enough to be OK, but throw steak on iceberg, and normally it’s kind of gross. With the spinach and the strong cheese and the strong dressing and the onions, it all stands up to the steak enough to actually make it really yummy.