Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cranberry Bean Salad with Dill Dressing and Steak "Croutons"

As you might have guessed from my post on buying part of a cow, I like meat.  But as much as I like it, I also realize that consuming large quantities of it isn't really good for my health or the environment.  For this reason, Mark Bittman's recipes often appeal to me, as meat is often used almost as a garnish, rather than the main attraction.  You can taste it, but it's not the focus of the meal.  When I saw his recipe for an edamame salad in Cooking Light, I loved how the crispy steak bits looked like croutons on top of a colorful mix of fresh vegetables and beans.

Unfortunately, I'm not really a fan of edamame.  But, I do like most beans, and had some dried heirloom cranberry beans in the pantry.  I changed up the dressing for a more summery taste, and added some avocado because it makes even the healthiest meal feel more indulgent.  This is really more a method than a recipe, because there are a lot of variations to try: radishes and thinly sliced carrots would add some crunch, or use black beans and lime juice for a southwestern combo.  Any kind of bean would work, dried, canned or fresh.

Cranberry Bean Salad with Dill Dressing and Steak "Croutons"

For the salad:

1 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil

2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper
1 c dried cranberry beans, soaked and cooked according to package directions, cooled

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved, seeds removed if making this more than a few hours in advance
1 chopped and seeded English cucumber
4 green onions, thinly sliced 

For the "croutons":
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 ounces flank steak, cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

How to make it:

Combine mayonnaise through dill in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If you used canned beans, you may not need as much salt.  Add beans, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and onions; stir gently to combine and coat with dressing.

Heat a medium skillet over high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Combine steak, salt, and pepper, coating steak. Add steak mixture to pan; cook 5 minutes or until well browned and crisp, stirring frequently.

Divide salad into four shallow bowls and top with portions of the steak bits.

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