Steak with Lemony Arugula and Parmesan Salad

Steak with Arugula Salad on plate with knife and fork

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 with arugula salad recipe that offers peppery crunch and just enough (read: a lot of) lemon juice to make you pucker. Lemony 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. 

Arugula salad with avocado, Parmesan cheese, and lemon in bowl

The lemon vinaigrette is straightforward and simple, and 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 steak and arugula 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 with 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. 

Raw NY Strip on plate with salt

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. 

Tossed arugula salad with avocado, Parmesan cheese, and lemon in bowl

How to cook steak in a pan on the stove

Add the steak to a cold (yes, cold!) pan and place it on your stovetop. Heat the pan to medium. This method only works for well-marbled cuts of steak that are 1-inch thick or greater (such as NY strip or ribeye). 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.

Raw NY Strip in skillet

Cook the steak, flipping every 2-3 minutes and turning the heat to medium-low 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.

Seared NY Strip in skillet

Let the steak rest for 5-10 minutes (on the shorter side if it’s thinner, longer if it’s thicker). It should reach an internal temperature of 130°F.

Seared NY Strip cut into pieces on cutting board

How to grill steak on a charcoal or gas grill

If you’re using a well-marbled steak that is 1-inch 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). It should reach an internal temperature of 130°F.

More easy grilling recipes:

Steak with Lemony Arugula and Parmesan Salad

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Dinner American
By Samantha Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus resting Total Time: 45 minutes

Perfectly seared steak with an arugula, avocado, and Parmesan salad tossed in a lemony vinaigrette is a simple summer (or anytime!) meal that can be made on the grill or in a pan on the stove.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ - 2 pounds steak (any cut you like!)
  • Salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon, plus 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated or crushed with a garlic press
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 5 oz arugula
  • 1 avocado, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • Flaky salt, optional, for serving

Instructions

1

Season steak well with salt and set aside.

2

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper (about 20 cranks), 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.

3

Pat the steak dry and season with black pepper. Add the steak to a cold pan and heat the pan to medium (*see note). For grilling directions, please see blog post. Cook the steak, flipping every 2 minutes and turning the heat to medium-low 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. 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). It should reach an internal temperature of 130°F.

4

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.

5

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.

Notes

This cold pan, stovetop method works best for thicker cut (more than 1-inch), well-marbled steak. For thinner, leaner cuts of steak, it’s better to heat canola or vegetable oil in the skillet over medium heat, then add the steak and sear for a few minutes on each side, flipping only once, until 125°F for medium-rare.

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