Unfussy Fare

Grilled Steak with Greens and Parmesan


Simple ingredients command respect. No showing off with fancy footwork or cheap accessories. A simple recipe stands on its own merit, cool and confident. In that less-is-more spirit, I bring you my all-time favorite way to eat a steak. You may be thinking “For this I need a recipe?” But this one will knock your socks off, I promise. Not because there are any surprising ingredients or culinary twists, but because every element is perfectly balanced against all the others.

The first time I made this, it was an answer to not having much in the fridge.  That was in 2002. For SEVEN YEARS this one has held its own as a family favorite.  That’s quite a feat, with so many new recipes clamoring for attention.

This meal calls for stuff we almost always have on hand (well, except for the steak).  Garlic, pepper, olive oil, lemon, parmesan, salt, greens.  Most days, those items are just hanging out in the kitchen, resigned to their humble status as staples. Marry them in this way, though, and I’m telling you, you will wonder if you’ve ever truly appreciated lemon, or pepper, or parmesan before.


No recipe is sacred in our house. I’m all for substitutions.  I also happen to think lettuce is underrated. But part of the magic of this salad springs from using bitter greens. Arugula is great, or a greens mixture that has a little bite. Not just lettuce. You’ll thank me.

This recipe was inspired by one on epicurious.com. Theirs is much meatier.  I like to give the greens (and the garlic/pepper paste) more of a starring role. Adapt it to your own tastes. Just make more garlic paste for more meat, if you know what”s good for you.

P.S. Meat poses a challenge to this fledgling food photographer.  For my money, meat never pulls off a good picture. It suffers from a certain….ugliness. Is there a closet vegetarian heart beating in this chest? Maybe, but it won’t trump my carnivorous taste buds anytime soon.

serves four

5 garlic cloves, minced, mashed or pushed through a garlic press.
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus one tablespoon for drizzling at the end
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 ½ – 2 pounds New York strip steak, about one inch thick
8 cups loosely packed arugula or other greens
2 ounce piece of Parmesan cheese
1 lemon
salt to taste

Mash garlic, one tablespoon olive oil, and pepper into a paste.

Coat steaks with paste and let stand at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

Grill to desired doneness (about six minutes a side for medium rare on our grill).

Let steak stand for five minutes. Slice into ¼ inch slices and arrange on greens.

Pour accumulated juices onto salad.

Shave parmesan onto salads with a vegetable peeler.

Sprinkle with salt. Drizzle salads with the remaining one tablespoon olive oil.

Serve with lemon wedges. Don”t forget that squeeze of lemon! It matters.


2 Responses to “Grilled Steak with Greens and Parmesan”

  1. Derek Olso says:

    Getting closer to an entree. . . . I think you’re like my sister: never too filling and with the simplicity of a slight emptiness.

  2. Gillian says:

    I get more entree-inspired in the Fall. For now I’m wallowing in produce while I can. Next stop, more vegetables, I’m afraid.

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