Even as you “Ease Up on the Animal“ for weight loss and health, this gorgeous and delicious dish will satisfy your inner carnivore without a beastly calorie count: Sherry Balsamic Steak Over Grilled Escarole, Mushrooms and Tomatoes with Feta and Olives.
It’s a dinner that can be made almost as easily for 2 as 12…With few ingredients and all the cooking done on the grill, it’s ready to plate in just 30 minutes! (For those in city apartments, it’s just as tasty made on a grill pan…details on that, later.)
The secret is the combination of ingredients…each one playing a crucial role in satisfying your hunger and nutritional needs while hitting all of your taste buttons!
And once you know The Skinny on why these ingredients work, you’ll find lots of ways to work them into your other dishes!
The Beef: Rather than using steaks from factory farmed cattle, which are fed on corn and other grains (and God only knows what else), use 100% Grass Fed beef ! It will cost a few dollars more a pound, but will save you calories, cholesterol and fat. And the taste? So much better! You’ll know you’re eating real steak and, with all the other tasty things in this dish, 4 ounces of meat–the most your body can effectively digest in one meal– will be enough.
The Mushrooms: Portobellos are big and easy to grill and slice up like meat…but any variety will work. Mushrooms have the same Umami quality found in meat and, studies prove, they’re all magic for weight loss.
The Vinegar: Every time you choose to use real vinegar and a wee bit of oil (instead of bottled salad dressing), you are helping your body lose weight.. with the Acetic Acid in vinegar lowering your post-meal blood sugar levels by as much as 30 percent! (Remember, keeping your blood sugar on an even keel is key for losing and maintaining weight.)
The Greens: Escarole–a less bitter relative of radicchio–adds virtually no calories to your plate but does add antioxidants and other vitamins as well as weight-loss boosting fiber, which helps you stay full longer. (And, according to Shape Magazine, may help you look better in a bikini…) And, cooked on the grill, it takes on a smoky taste that works great with meat.
The Tomatoes: Raw tomatoes are high in fiber and the antioxidant Vitamin C, but cooking tomatoes boosts their health benefits even further...increasing the cancer and cholesterol fighting lycopene of the fruit.
The Cheese: When you’re craving cheese but watching your weight, Feta is a great choice. Made from sheep and goat milk, it has fewer calories and fat than other cheese (around 25 calories a tablespoon), yet still delivers 4 grams of protein per ounce.
The Olives: Olives pack a punch of salty flavor and the meaty Umami quality for just about 25 calories a tablespoon..and provide you with heart healthy monounsaturated fats. But the real magic of olives is found in thier fat burning Adiponectin which actually boosts your metabolism. (Don’t used canned olives, their taste and texture won’t compare to jarred or dry packed or, better still, the type you pick up at the olive bar of a fresh market like Whole Foods.)
The Other: Here, I’ve used locally grown asparagus to fill out this buffet dinner…but if zucchini, fiddlehead ferns, eggplant, or any other summer produce are running fresh in your area, run with them!
SHERRY-BALSAMIC STEAK OVER GRILLED ESCAROLE, PORTOBELLOS AND TOMATOES with FETA AND OLIVES
This recipe serves 4, but is easily divided or multiplied.
1 pound grass fed sirloin or strip steak (Cook it whole, but slice thin for serving.)
2 large heads fresh escarole
1 lb grape or cherry tomatoes
1/4 c crumbled Feta cheese
1/4 c pitted and sliced olives (black or green or a combination)
1/4 c good balsamic vinegar
1/4 c sherry (I use Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry…grocery store cooking sherry is just not as flavorful..and balsamic, alone, is a bit too sweet.)
2 T fresh garlic, pressed or minced (I think using a garlic press is easier and works better for marinades and dressings as it really extracts the tasty juice from the garlic.)
1 t olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together the Balsamic, Sherry and Garlic dressing and let sit while you fire up the grill to pre-heat on high for 15 minutes, lid closed.
Rub the 1 t of oil over the tops of the mushrooms, flip over and drizzle the vinegar/sherry dressing over the gill (upside down) side of mushrooms…gently massaging garlic bits into the gills.
(I don’t recommend leaving the vinegar/sherry on the meat for more than 15 minutes…you want to add a bit of flavor but don’t want to lose the taste of the great meat you’re using!)
Pull the leaves off of the base to make sure you rinse off any dirt and sprinkle the damp greens and the meat and mushrooms with salt and pepper.
(Rinse your tomatoes, too…even if they’re organic, they need to be rinsed.)
When your grill is ready, toss on the steak and immediately turn the fire down to medium or medium-low.
(Grass fed beef has less fat..by preheating your grill on high, you’ll get a good sear on one side…and can finish cooking on a lower temperature on the other side without comprising taste and texture.)
With the lid open, let it sizzle for a 2 or 3 minutes while you grab your mushrooms, escarole and tomatoes from the kitchen.
(If using asparagus, now’s the time to toss it on as well.)
Using tongs, check the bottom of the steak, if it’s well marked and looking halfway done, flip it.
Once they’re well marked and are filling up with juice on the gill side, use your tongs to lift and pour the mushroom juices over the steak before you flip them over to cook on the gill side.
(That juice from the cooked mushrooms and garlic/dressing will only enhance your steak..why waste it!?)
(Meat always needs 15 minutes to rest–which is very convenient since you need 15 minutes to do the rest..!)
As room is made on the grill, add the tomatoes and roll them around until slightly charred and almost bursting..
Sprinkle on the feta and olives onto and then saunter over to the buffet table…Slice the steak thinly and load each plate with a heap of the delicious cooked veg and 4 ounces of the sliced meat… Enjoy!
COOKING NOTE FOR THOSE IN APARTMENTS:
Instead, spray your non-stick grill pan well with oil before cooking your steak and veggies and, when everything is done, douse with the vinegar/sherry dressing on a plate, not in the pan.