Grilled Steak and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Cherries
Early 2000s teen soaps.
What do all of these seemingly random things have in common, you may ask???
They are some of my greatest life passions.
(If you’re not picturing me at my desk singing “These are a few of my faaaaaavorite things!” off key you should be. I work alone. I am also tone deaf.)
I can say with relative confidence that I am an authority on all of the above with one glaring exception: WINE.
Don’t get me wrong, I drink a lot of wine. I know what I like and am pretty good at pairing food with my favorite bottles, which hopefully counts for something. But my formal wine knowledge? It’s lacking, to say the least.
So, when Languedoc Wines offered to help educate me on the Languedoc region and asked if I’d like to try different wines and experiment with some recipe pairings, I said YES, PLEASE. (I was very tempted to send them the lyrics to Kelly Clarkson’s A Moment Like This, but I didn’t want to seem desperate…)
Needless to say, I have enjoyed every drop of my recent education. So I thought I’d share some of my newfound knowledge with you because a.) I feel proud that I now know some wine things, and b.) it’s interesting, dammit.
First things first, the Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest vineyard area and wine producing area in France—we’re talking 580,000 acres of vineyards here, people—and its massive size plus the variation in climate and soils allow for the production of all styles of wine. Languedoc also lends itself to natural methods of farming and wine production thanks to a combination of favorable environmental factors in this region of southern France. Fun fact: 30% of ALL of Frances’s organic wine comes from Languedoc. You know I like organic things.
Like I said, Languedoc produces all style of wine—Sparkling! White! Rosé! Red!—so there are endless fabulous (and shockingly affordable) options guaranteed to please every type of wine drinker. I’ve had the honor and privilege of trying them all, but my personal favorite wine from the region is a red from the Saint Chinian appellation, Domain Rimbert: Le Mas au Schiste.
This organic wine is produced by Jean-Marie Rimbert, a winemaker who is relatively new to the region and has cultivated his vineyards with the utmost respect for the environment. (I love that despite being the largest wine region in France, Languedoc isn’t dominated by behemoth wineries and is a great place for “little guys” like Rimbert.) Le Mas au Schiste is actually a red blend—40% Carignan, 30% Syrah, 30% Grenache—and the word that comes to mind to describe it is delightful. Subtly sweet and not too heavy with a little bit of stone fruity-ness happening. (Do I sound like I know what I’m talking about yet?!)
In short, this bottle is easy drinking and not too heavy for late spring/summer, and it beautifully complements the sweet and savory flavors of the Grilled Steak and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Cherries that’s on your screen.
I’ve been making versions of this salad for years, and it never gets old. Not only is it bursting with sweet and savory flavors, but it’s one of those ridiculously easy recipes that is so much more than just the sum of its parts. Simply grill a couple well-seasoned strip steaks, slice them thinly against the grain, and pile the tender meat on a bed of arugula. Smother the meat with sweet cherries cooked down in olive oil and balsamic (they act as “dressing”), sprinkle with a little salty feta or tangy goat cheese, and you’ve got quite the feast on your hands. And it takes all of 30 minutes from start to finish with a wine lag.
(FYI, this is a very Dude Diet-friendly salad. The ratio of meat to greens is extremely high.)
This salad, some grilled bread, and a bottle of Le Mas au Schiste would be perfect for your Memorial Day weekend celebrations, which just happen to coincide with Languedoc Day. #LanguedocDay is the annual international celebration of the region’s wines, and it is this Friday, May 25. I personally will be celebrating with said bottle (and plenty of Languedoc rosé) because who doesn’t love a holiday double header? Get on my level.
Grilled Steak and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Cherries (Serves 3-4)
Two 8- to 10-ounce strip steaks (1-inch thick)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1 cup sweet cherries, sliced in half and pitted
5 ounces baby arugula
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
2 ounces feta or goat cheese (dealer’s choice!), crumbled
-Remove the steaks from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature.
-Preheat a lightly oiled grill (or grill pan) over high heat.
-Season the steaks very generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Place them on the hot grill and cook for 3 minutes per side just to get some solid grill mark action.
-Transfer the steaks to a cooler part of the grill (or reduce the heat on your grill pan to medium) and cook for another 3 minutes or so per side for medium rare. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and let them rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute, then slice them thinly against the grain.
-While the steak is resting, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the cherries and cook for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, just until the fruit begins to soften.
-Add the balsamic and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for about a minute just until the balsamic has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat.
-Add the arugula to a large bowl or serving platter. Toss the greens with a pinch of salt. Top with the red onion, steak, and cherry “dressing.” (You can toss the salad at this point if you like, but it’s prettier served untossed.)
-Sprinkle with cheese and add a few cranks of black pepper if you like. Serve immediately.
This post is sponsored by my friends at Languedoc Wines. As always, all opinions are very obviously my own.
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