Summer Steak Salad
This salad represents so many things that I loved about Piedmontese food. From the creamiest, most decadent Gorgonzola to the ripest apricot picked straight off the tree, juicy cherries at their peak and veal so tender we ate it raw (not rare, raw!), there are layers of flavor in this salad that take me right back to beautiful Italy.
Ready in: 10 minutes
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6-8oz beef tenderloin, about 1-inch thick (1 filet)
2 cups arugula
1/2 cup cherries, pitted and cut in half
1 apricot, sliced
1/3 cup fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large non-stick pan or grill pan over medium-high heat. Pat the tenderloin dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then season both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook the meat for 2-3 minutes on each side for medium-rare (more rare). Remove from the pan and let sit for a couple of minutes.
2. Arrange the arugula on a large plate and top with cherries, apricot, blueberries and Gorgonzola cheese.
3. Use a sharp knife to thinly slice the tenderloin on the diagonal. Arrange over the greens and fruit, and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
Aside from the fact that I like my steak bleeding red, it's as close as I could come to the dish that helped inspire this recipe. In Italy, chefs (and any producer of edible and drinkable goods) develop such a trusting and honest relationship with their growers and suppliers that our host chef, Chef Stefano Paganini at the Magliano Alfieri castle, made us a dish of raw Fassona, a special breed of veal (Vitella) that is native to the Piemonte region. He did so blindly, sans fear of making I turisti americani (the American tourists) sick to their stomachs. In his dish, we enjoyed it with fresh (and also raw) Prawns, a garnish of fresh peaches, watermelon, blueberries, arugula, and shaved asparagus, all over some fresh apricot puree. Chef Stefano dressed it all with extra virgin olive oil and soy sauce, because unlike usual salad courses, citrus was omitted to avoid the acids from "cooking" the beef (think how lemon/lime cooks fish in a ceviche recipe).