Somewhere early on in my learning the German language, I read the original Grimm fairy tale of Rapunzel. It’s pretty different from the Disney movie, FYI, from the lack of catchy musical numbers to the fact that the prince who comes to rescue Rapunzel from her tower ends up blinded when he attempts suicide by leaping out her window. (Hard to imagine that fitting in a catchy musical number anyway, now that I think about it.) But the especially bizarre thing that always stood out to me about the original German version of Rapunzel is that almost the entire first half of the story, which happens before Rapunzel’s birth, has to do with her pregnant mother’s insane lust for the lettuce growing in her neighbor’s garden. The mother’s desire for a salad made of the beautiful green lettuce she sees growing in this garden is so strong that she sends her husband to steal some. The husband, dutiful man that he is, does so, only to find his wife’s cravings intensified threefold after she finally tastes the forbidden lettuce. Dang those pregnancy cravings!
When he eventually gets caught by the neighbor (who–didja guess? happens to be a witch), he promises to hand over the baby to her at birth, so long as his wife can continue to have a supply of the lettuce for her surreptitious salads. Cause, you know, baby…lettuce…it’s all good.
You’ll have to read the original Grimm fairy tale if you want to know how things pan out for Rapunzel and kooky family, but whenever I recall the story, I always think, DANG, that must have been one awesome salad to make her parents hand over their firstborn for it. (That or they weren’t too thrilled about having a baby in the first place?) Every time I have a great salad, I kind of chuckle to myself, like, “Could this be the one someone would relinquish their children for?” Just so you know, I have yet to find the salad I’d be willing to trade my kids in for…
BUT…while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about this uh-may-zing Steak Chopped Salad. Thankfully, you don’t need to make a deal with your neighborhood mistress of the dark arts for a taste. Nor do you need to go hopping fences to steal magical lettuce. All you need are some pantry staples, a good piece of sirloin, and some garden-fresh red cabbage and romaine. The combination of roasted red peppers, creamy feta, marinated steak, and crunchy lettuce with a zingy Mediterranean-style dressing is sublime enough to make you think magic was involved. I couldn’t stop thinking about it after we had it a few night ago.
So I can only assume this is the salad Rapunzel’s mother made, because IF there were a salad that could make me go to crazy lengths to eat it, well, this is the one.
Steak Chopped Salad
For the steak:
- 1 lb. sirloin steak
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/3 c. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
For the salad:
- 2 c. red cabbage, chopped into strips
- 6 c. romaine lettuce, chopped into strips
- 3/4 c. jarred roasted red peppers, diced
- 3/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
- 1 15-oz. can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
For the dressing:
- 1/3 c. olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp. dried basil
- 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
- generous pinch salt and pepper
Make the steak:
- Combine garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper in a gallon freezer bag. Add steak to the bag and let marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes-2 hours.
- Bring steak to room temperature by removing from refrigerator 15-30 minutes prior to cooking. Remove from marinade and pat dry. Set an oven rack 4-5 inches from broiler heating element and preheat broiler to high.
- Heat a small skillet over high heat. Add steak and sear 2-3 minutes per side, using tongs to flip in between. Place skillet in oven under broiler and broil on each side 2-3 minutes, again using tongs to flip.
- Carefully tent aluminum foil over skillet and let steak rest while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Make the salad:
- In a large bowl, toss chopped red cabbage, chopped romaine, red peppers, feta, and cannellini beans.
Make the dressing:
- In a 1-cup measuring cup, combine all ingredients. Using an immersion blender, mix until emulsified.
Put it all together:
- Slice steak into cubes, cutting against the grain, and add to salad. Serve with dressing on the side.