Steak With Lemon-Parmesan Arugula Salad
When it comes to steak dinner recipes, I don’t want something doused in butter, rubbed in a sticky-sweet sauce, or, worst of all, poked onto a skewer next to an under-seasoned bell pepper and grilled to oblivion. I want an easy steak and arugula salad recipe that offers peppery crunch and just enough (read: a lot of) lemon juice to make you pucker. Lemon-dressed arugula, combined with creamy slices of avocado and finely grated Parmesan cheese, makes the ideal foil for a medium-rare cut of beef seasoned with salt and pepper — and absolutely nothing else.
The lemon vinaigrette is straightforward and simple. It should probably be doubled for you to douse your summer produce all season long. Lemon juice and zest, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a few scoops of Parmesan cheese is my new go-to salad dressing.
And just when you thought this recipe couldn’t get anymore carefree (it is summer after all), it gives you the freedom to choose your cut of beef because I never understood why recipes specified the cut you *should* use anyway. Use flank steak, ribeye, NY strip, or whatever funky farmer’s market slice you can get your hands on.
My only request is that you do not overcook the steak (whatever that means to you), so invest in a good meat thermometer that you will use far more frequently than that KitchenAid stand mixer you had to have. Just saying.
Don’t reheat your leftovers (in the interest of not overcooking), and make a sandwich instead: Slice open a good baguette, slather it with garlic-heavy pesto, lay a few (cold!) slices of leftover steak on one side, pile it with leftover salad, and eat it over nothing but a napkin.
How to make Steak and Arugula Salad
Here is the most important part of this recipe: Season the steak well with salt. If all else fails, at least you’ll have a flavorful cut of beef.
While the salt seeps into the steak, you’ll whisk together the lemon vinaigrette. Pour as much as you’d like onto the crunchy arugula to soften its bite. You’ll probably have some leftover, which you can use to make a quick pan sauce. I’ll explain that later.
How to cook steak in a pan on the stove
For well-marbled cuts of steak that are 1 1/2-inches thick or greater (such as NY strip or ribeye): Add the steak to a cold (yes, cold!), nonstick or carbon steel pan (Note: In an earlier version of the recipe I used a cast iron pan, as in the photos below, but found more consistent success with nonstick/carbon steel pans) and place it on your stovetop. Heat the pan to high. The idea is to heat the steak slowly and gradually rather than searing it over crazy-high heat and causing dribbles of hot steak fat to Jackson Pollock your kitchen. It’s a less-mess method that I learned from Cook’s Illustrated.
Cook the steak, flipping every 2-3 minutes and turning the heat to medium after it’s been flipped once on all sides, until dark walnut-brown on both sides and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak reads 125°F for medium-rare.
Let the steak rest for 5-10 minutes (on the shorter side if it’s thinner, longer if it’s thicker).
How to grill steak on a charcoal or gas grill
If you’re using a well-marbled steak that is 1 1/2-inches thick or greater, I’d suggest preheating an oven-safe skillet (such as cast iron) directly on your grill. This will prevent flare-ups from all of that gorgeous fat dripping onto hot coals. If you’re using a thinner cut of steak, you can place it directly on the grill. For a gas grill, heat the pan to medium. For a charcoal grill, set up the grill for two-zone heat and place the steak on top of the hotter zone.
Cook the steak, flipping every 2-3 minutes and moving to a colder part of the grill if it starts to brown too quickly, until dark walnut-brown on both sides and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak reads 125°F for medium-rare. Close the grill in-between flips to preserve heat. It’s best to maintain a temperature of 450°F to 500°F when grilling steaks. Let the steak rest for 5-10 minutes (on the shorter side if it’s thinner, longer if it’s thicker).
More easy grilling recipes:
Steak With Lemon-Parmesan Arugula Salad
- 1 ½ - 2 lb steak (any cut you like!)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Zest of 1 lemon, plus 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove, finely grated or crushed with a garlic press
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 4 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 5 oz arugula
- 1 avocado, cut into ½-in. cubes
- Flaky salt, optional, for serving
- Season steak well with salt and set aside.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. In a large bowl, add the arugula, avocado, and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan. Pour enough dressing on the arugula to moisten and toss well. I usually have about ⅓ cup of the dressing left over, but add as much as you like. You can use the reserved dressing for a quick pan sauce after the steak is done (recipe below). Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Set the dressed salad aside while you make the steak.
- Pat the steak dry and season with black pepper. For steak that is thicker than 1 1/2 inches, add to a cold, nonstick or carbon steel pan and heat the pan over high (*see note). For grilling directions, please see blog post. Cook the steak, flipping every 2 minutes and turning the heat to medium after it’s been flipped once on all sides, until dark walnut-brown on both sides and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak reads 120-125°F for medium-rare. If your steak is very thick and has a fat cap, be sure to sear it on all 4 sides as you flip, not just the top and bottom. Let the steak rest on a cutting board for 5 - 10 minutes (on the shorter side if it’s thinner, longer if it’s thicker).
- To make a pan sauce using the leftover dressing, add the dressing to the pan after you remove the steak and whisk vigorously until it combines with the pan juices. Drizzle the sauce over the steak after you slice it, or let diners spoon out as much as they’d like onto their portion.
- To serve, slice the steak against the grain into ½ inch pieces. Serve with the arugula salad; top with extra cranks of black pepper and a pinch of flaky salt.
- This cold pan, stovetop method only works for thicker cut (more than 1 1/2-inches), well-marbled steak (such as ribeye or strip). For thinner, leaner cuts of steak, it’s better to heat canola or vegetable oil in the skillet over medium-high heat, then add the steak and sear for a few minutes on each side, flipping only once, until 120-125°F for medium-rare.