I made a couple new friends this weekend. We met on Saturday morning at the grocery store. I knew I was going to bump into these two there at the store, the list in my hand told me so, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to have the guts to look at them. I was fully prepared to pull the old Oh, There’s Someone I Don’t Want to Talk To so I’m Going to Pretend to Concentrate Really Hard on This Display of Flour trick when I approached them in the aisles.
I was nervous. See, I haven’t exactly been warm toward these two in the past. One of these guys, I have just come right out and said I didn’t like them. Out loud. In a snotty way. In front of others. The other, I just flat out ignored.
Who did I make amends with this weekend? Who did I bond with over a cart with a wobbly wheel? Who did I invite into my home for a lovely summer meal? I think you’ll be surprised!
My first new friend? Cilantro. Yes. I know. I know! I can’t believe it either. My arch nemesis. Cilantro and I are friends now after this weekend! Squee!
My second new friend? Anchovies. It had never occurred to me to buy them before and they’d basically gone unnoticed until now. They’re a little…stand-offish, don’t you think? All packed down in that little can, lifeless and oily. Not exactly friendly if you ask me. But, I think they’re just shy. Because these guys brought a whole bunch of life to the dinner party last night.
I brought my two new friends home, we talked through our differences, and I combined them into something really special and really delicious.
Crunchy romaine hearts, colorful bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, sweet corn kernels, and spicy baked tortilla strips, all tossed with an herb-kissed Caesar dressing and topped with juicy strips of perfectly grilled sirloin. Also known as: Texas Caesar Salad.
So good. This was the perfect light meal for a hot summer night. Eric, being the meat and potatoes kind of man he is, isn’t really big on the idea of a salad as dinner. Not manly enough. Or something.
That’s why I added steak. Ha. That certainly gets his attention. We both enjoyed this on such a hot July night. The dressing had a great punch of flavor and brightness from the cilantro. Since there are so many strong flavors going on, I didn’t find the cilantro overpowering at all, which was a very pleasant surprise!
Add an ice cold beer (or your favorite wine), some nice crusty bread and you’ve got a delicious dinner. Invite some new friends. May I suggest cilantro and anchovies? 😉
TEXAS CAESAR SALAD WITH GRILLED SIRLOIN (Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit, July 1999 via Epicurious.com)
For the dressing:
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped shallots
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 jalapeño chili, seeded, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup olive oil
For the salad:
- 8 cups bite-size pieces romaine lettuce (from 2 heads)
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced (I subbed an orange bell pepper)
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 2 ears fresh sweet corn, grilled until tender and slightly charred, then cut from the cob
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- Baked chili-lime tortilla strips (Recipe follows)
- 1 lb. sirloin strip steak, grilled until desired doneness and sliced into thin strips
- Additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Purée first 9 ingredients in processor until smooth. Gradually add olive oil and process until blended. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
- Combine romaine, bell pepper, scallions, corn, tomatoes and half the tortilla strips in a large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Divide among 4 serving dishes, top with steak, and garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and the rest of tortilla strips.
BAKED CHILI-LIME TORTILLA STRIPS (Recipe source: Me!)
- 2 medium flour tortillas
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Zest of one small lime
- Kosher salt and pepper taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into long, thin strips. Toss with olive oil and other ingredients. Spread in an even layer on a foil-covered baking sheet.
Bake until golden brown and crunchy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cool before using.
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