Happy First Day of Summer, Y’all!!
With the heat index already creeping into triple digits here in Texas, I’m shifting my meal planning to include a few easy salads a week.
Yes, Mister HHT, who gets McDonalds gift cards from Santa, enjoys salads for dinner…AS LONG AS THERE IS PLENTY OF MEAT ON IT! I cannot stress that point enough.
If you’re feeding a man a salad for dinner, it can’t be a few pretty pieces of arugala and scattering of diced tomatoes. Heck, I’d be starving after a salad like that. Lil' Mama here and my Mister both need plenty of protein on our salads in order for it to be promoted from appetizer to entrée status.
This salad, while stunning and refreshing, is plenty filling thanks to steak.
And that’s the only part of this recipe that requires any form or fashion of effort. Everything else you just throw into a bowl.
Easy peasy Paleo, y’all.
Let’s get to it!
Let’s rewind to three months+1 day ago.
It’s 10:30 p.m. I’m sitting in a hospital bed, enrobed in a postpartum haze of exhaustion and exhilaration and wonder. I’ve been awake for 24 hours, half of those laced with the pangs and pains and, let's be real, panic of childbirth. I’m trying to nurse my hours-old son, and I realize I haven’t eaten in about 28 hours.
And there’s only one thing I want to eat- Hillstone’s Thai Steak Salad.
Luckily, I had thought ahead and assigned my blessing of a sister-in-law (love you JuJu) to deliver this salad to my hospital room to await my realization that I was actually starving.
And at 10:35 p.m., it hit.
With one hand, I devoured that salad, studded with tender pieces of filet, buttery avocado, fresh cilantro and mint and basil, juicy tomatoes, tangy mango, and crunchy bits of coconut and peanuts.
Did some cilantro end up on my newborn's head? Of course it did...it's good for him.
To say that that salad hit the spot would be the understatement of my year.
It was absolute heaven. And it remains one of my favorite salads on the planet.
To no surprise, when the craving for it struck again this past weekend, I was slightly devastated that the nearest Hillstone restaurant was an hour away in Dallas.
So what’s a girl to do when she wants her beloved Thai steak salad?
Make it herself! I've had it enough times in my life that I felt confident I could remake it.
While the O.G. salad from Hillstone uses luscious filet medallions, filet isn’t the most budget-friendly cut of beef. For my recreation, I used a tender but lesser glorified cut of beef: flat iron steak.
Thin, juicy, and open to whatever marinade you soak him in, this cut of beef, even grass-fed, will put you in the $8ish/pound range versus the $20/pound range of tenderloin.
Yeay for saving money!
When it’s time to throw together this glorious salad, pour the marinade ingredients into a gallon Ziploc bag and toss in your flat iron steak for an hour or two max. If you let it marinate much longer, it will actually make this cut of steak tougher, unlike other heartier beef cuts like a brisket.
After a little time in the marinade party, throw those steaks on the grill (I used my indoor grill pan because sister was NOT goin’ to man the grill in 100 degrees) for about 5 minutes a side (for medium-rare, my steak temp of choice).
Do not, do not, do not cut into those steaks right after they come off the grill.
Cover them in foil and let them rest. That way, all of those lovely beef juices stay locked into the steak, allowing it to stay juicy and flavorful. If you cut into them too early, those juices (aka flavor) seep out and you’re left with a dry, flavorless piece of sadness.
Personally, I cooked up my steaks earlier in the day, making dinnertime even easier since all I was left to do was slice and assemble my salads. You could also buy already cooked steak or rotisserie chicken from the deli of your grocery store and save a few more minutes.
Finally, it’s time for all the yummy add-ins to this salad that make it Thai-tastic. Carrots, tomatoes, avocado, mango, cashews, coconut, and fresh cilantro, basil, and mint are the power players in this salad. Yes, it sounds like a lot. And yes, you could easily omit some of these ingredients if you must or don’t like them. I highly recommend you DO NOT skip out on the fresh herbs, unless, of course, you do not like one of them. I know how some of y'all are about cilantro. Hate or love.
As a side note about fresh herbs, if you don't have them growing in your backyard/on your porch/in your windowsill, I'd advise you buy a tiny plant or two instead of buying the packaged stuff in the refrigerator section of your grocery store. That stuff is waaaaay overpriced; I'm pretty sure buying your own basil plant is cheaper than buying a package of fresh basil. For reals, y'all.
Did I mention that you get to use one of those handy dandy chopped salad kits, too? I love those things…just open, dump, and devour. Just use your own dressing...that stuff usually is loaded with junk.
Speaking of which- last but not least is your dressing. With a small but mighty mason jar (my go-to salad dressing maker), pour in all your typical Thai flavors- a little sweet, a little sour, a little salty, a little spicy- and shaky shaky. Lime juice, sesame oil, coconut milk, coconut sugar (or honey), fresh ginger, and soy sauce get together and make some beautiful magic in that mason jar. This dressing can also be made ahead and stored in your fridge for 7-10 days. Hooray leftovers!
If you’re ready to try salad for dinner nights, summer is the perfect time! There's so much fantastic produce in season that you could throw in, plus it's so hot the idea of eating a crisp salad sounds far more appetizing than a heavy casserole or soup.
If you’re worried your family won’t be up for salad for dinner, you could make it for yourself for lunches instead! More steak salad for you, which is always a fantastic thing!
Healthy Happy Texan
I'm a Foodie, Fitness Instructor, and Follower of Christ. Add a passion for teaching others, dark chocolate, bacon, and dogs -- and that's me in a box.
Come on, let's live a little!