Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Steve and the Steakhouse

Although we resorted to the standards for Easter of ham and turkey, Steve loves steak. So does Travis. And they both love Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. We recently went there with a (very generous) friend and enjoyed steak. Everyone comes back raving about the steak and the service, of course. No one talks about the sides. That is typically because they are boring at best. But one side does stand above from the undercooked au gratin potatoes and mediocre mixed vegetables: the House Chopped Salad.
Steve said those thrilling words to me last week at church, "So, what do you think makes that salad so good???" I took that as a challenge and when asked to bring salad, I thought Easter would be a perfect celebration to discover why this salad, above all others, has unusual powers over men who love steak.
I unearthed the recipes online and went to task. This salad is quite lengthy in it's ingredient list, so it isn't for a weeknight recipe. Make it for when you want your man to talk about how good your vegetables are, not "Where's the meat?"

Ruth's Chris Chopped Salad
makes enough for 12
1 head radicchio, sliced thinly
1 head romaine lettuce, sliced thinly
1 head iceberg lettuce, sliced thinly
1 small bag baby spinach, sliced thinly
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, thinly sliced
12 basil leaves, chiffonade (rolled together then thinly sliced)

6 oz bleu cheese, crumbled
3 hardboiled eggs, diced
6 oz artichoke heart (or hearts of palm), diced
1 lb bacon, fried and crumbled
6 oz green olives, thinly sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly on bias (or red onion)
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 bag unseasoned croutons
2 cups crispy onions

Lemon Basil Dressing
3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup basil chiffonade
1/4 cup cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
-- Blend in a blender until combined.

The variations I took on this dish were the green onions for red onions (texture choice), addition of parsley, a dressing of my own making and spicy jalepeno green olives for some zing to cut through the creaminess. I also cheated and used canned fried onions because I don't have a deep-fat fryer and it isn't worth it to fry anything in an apartment. I would smell it for 2 weeks.

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