This recipe was inspired by a really delicious and healthy Thai steak wrap recipe from chef Kathleen Daelemans. We've been watching the Food Network and HGTV since near the beginning of these two networks (no surprise there) and Kathleen Daelemans was one of my favorite chefs on the Food Network with her Cooking Thin series. She made real food rather than relying on nonfat and light processed "diet" foods to lighten up her diet, and I really appreciated that. We probably saw the show with this wrap recipe at least 8 years ago, and it was a regular item on our dinner menu for years. As things sometimes go though, it fell off our radar and we haven't had it for the last couple of years. When Rick suggested that we make the wrap into our last salad for Salad Week, I thought it was a fab idea so I took out the recipe and reviewed it. After reading through the recipe, I realized that the dry rub for the steak didn't sound very Thai at all - cumin and allspice?!? It reminded me more of the Caribbean flavors you'd see in Jamaica or of some of the dishes we ate while we were in the Bahamas years ago. Don't ask why that didn't dawn on me before when we've made this, but it's probably because the other part of her wrap recipe with the slaw was more Asian with its flavors so I didn't really think about it before.
"Ooh!", I said to Rick, "wouldn't a tropical Caribbean salad be fun to make?" I'm pretty sure Rick wasn't thinking of the word fun when I said that, but he liked the idea so I went with it.
Fruit is a great addition to a salad with the whole sweet and savory combination, and mangoes seemed like a natural choice for a tropical Caribbean style salad. A light bulb went on in my head as I thought about mangoes and I excitedly said to Rick, "Oooh! I could make a mango vinaigrette!" I'm pretty sure Rick wasn't as excited as I was about the idea, but he liked it enough so I went with it. I thought for sure I had just invented an amazing new invention with the mango thing, but after a quick Google search, I realized I was apparently late to the mango vinaigrette party. There are so many recipes and even bottled dressings of this stuff out there! Why have I never heard of it or had it before?!? Who knows, but I'm glad I'm in the know now. This dressing is delicious! It made me start singing, "Dayyy-Oh! Me say day, me say day..." I'm pretty sure Rick thought I was a little crazy belting out that tune with my little limbo dance to go along with it, but he likes me enough so he went with it. :)
A few other notes - don't be put off by the amount of ingredients for the steak rub - it's all spices that you probably have in your cabinet and comes together pretty quickly, but do this step ahead of time to allow the flank steak to marinade for 1-12 hours (the longer the better! We do it first thing in morning or the night before). You can add a crunchy vegetable to the salad like julienned carrots or chopped red bell peppers - I think that would be fantastic, but I forgot. You can also adjust the spice level of the steak and/or the dressing however way you want. If you like things spicy, by all means add more. If you don't, then add less. See how that works? Same goes with just about any of the ingredients.
This salad is pretty fun to make and might have you singing like you're on vacation somewhere in the Caribbean too. Dayyy-Oh!
Caribbean Steak Salad with Ginger Mango Vinaigrette
Adapted from the Food Network/Kathleen Daelemans
Ingredients for steak:
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 T. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 T. finely chopped Italian parsley
1 pound lean flank steak
Ingredients for dressing:
1 T. lime or lemon juice (about 1 lime or 1/2 lemon)
1/2 tsp. lime or lemon zest
1 ripe mango, diced
3-4 T. brown sugar, depending on sweetness of mango
2 T. cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes or alternately, 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and minced (or a scotch bonnet if you dare!)
6 T. olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Ingredients for salad:
8 cups lettuce/mixed greens (we used half romaine, half spinach)
2 tomatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks, or 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 ripe mango, cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 ripe avocados, cut in half, pitted, scooped from peel and cut into 1 inch chunks
Chopped cilantro for garnish
Steak: In a plastic resealable bag, combine black pepper, salt, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, allspice, fresh ginger, and parsley. Add the flank steak and coat evenly in bag. Seal bag and refrigerate for 1 to 12 hours (the longer the better). Grill over high heat for 4-6 minutes each side for medium-rare to medium. Let rest with foil covering the steak for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Slice thinly on a slight diagonal against the grain (usually from the short ends).
Dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients except oil (lime juice, lime zest, mango, brown sugar, cilantro, ginger, and red pepper flakes or jalapeno pepper) in a blender. Puree the mixture, then slowly drizzle in olive oil until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine greens, tomatoes, mango, avocado, red onion, and avocado. Add about 1/3 of the dressing and gently toss with tongs. Add more dressing until evenly coated to your preference. Add salad to plates and top with sliced steak. Pour additional dressing on top if desired and garnish with cilantro.
Thank you for visiting during Salad Week! It's been a fun week, but I'm definitely taking a few blogging days off - my fingers were burning up the keyboard this past week and they need a break! :) Besides, it's time I get back to some house projects I've been working on around here. You'll hear about them soon enough in a future blog post. Until next time!