Recipe: A Grilled Steak Salad from Lark Chef John Sundstrom
Twenty years after chef John Sundstrom opened Lark with partners Kelly Ronan and JM Enos, the seminal Northwest restaurant keeps him plenty busy. So does his pizza restaurant, Cora, which reopened earlier this year with a more Italian focus. But on Sundays, Sundstrom often manages to hit up the Broadway farmers market with Enos, who’s also his wife. In warm-weather months, they buy berries and summer fruit and ponder dinner for those rare evenings when Sundstrom isn’t at the restaurant.
“Usually, we have no idea what to make,” he says. When it’s too hot to braise something, a salad that leans into seasonal vegetables and meat cooked outdoors is often the way to go. Sundstrom describes prep for this salad as leisurely. “To me, a relaxing Sunday is just to start the grill, have a beer, maybe open some rose.”
The chef likes to buy beef from Olsen Farms, which also supplies Lark’s potatoes. Richer cuts, like rib eyes, feel better suited to cast iron and cold winters. Sundstrom builds his summer salad from more casual steaks like a flank or a bavette. He takes maximum advantage of the grill, cooking vegetables and even bread. Enos’s family in California furnished the technique for the garlic-butter treatment, says Sundstrom. “That could just be dinner itself—it’s so decadent.”
If he’s lucky, Enos will make a cobbler or the chocolate chip cookies that remain a favorite at Lark’s sibling sandwich shop, Slab. It all comes together with ease, provided the weather isn’t too warm: “When we have those hot, hot days, we’re very much like, Let’s just have yogurt.”
- Salad greens, arugula or butter lettuce
- In-season vegetables, asparagus, green beans, summer squash, sweet onions, radish, mushrooms, peppers, or tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Steak, something thin like bavette, skirt, or flank
- Salt and pepper
- Bread, a soft, dense loaf like ciabatta or French bread (baguettes are too airy)
- Vinegar, sherry or red wine work great for this vinaigrette; balsamic is a bit heavy
- Shallot, optional, minced for salad dressing
- Butter, ¼ cup
- Garlic, 3 cloves, chopped
- Wash the greens, set aside to dry.
- Slice mushrooms, tomatoes, or any vegetables that don’t get grilled.
- Split your loaf of bread lengthwise. Brush with a little olive oil.
- Heat the grill. Salt and pepper the steak, and prep any vegetables that need to be grilled, like onions, peppers, or asparagus.
- Throw the meat on when the grill is very hot, and monitor closely—thinner, salad-friendly cuts cook quickly. When the steak is done to your liking, pull it off the grill and let it rest.
- Grill your vegetables and the slices of oiled bread. “You want to go a little bit dark,” says Sundstrom of the halved loaf. “It’s OK to have some char on there.”
- Mix vinegar and olive oil to create an easy vinaigrette. Aim for a ratio of one part vinegar to three or four parts olive oil. If you have a shallot, mince and add 1 tablespoon to the dressing. Whisk or shake (a small mason jar with a lid works great for this) and adjust to taste.
- Once the steak has rested for about eight minutes, slice the meat.
- On the stovetop, heat a pan that’s large enough to hold your slices of bread, face-down. Add butter and garlic. Keep heat low so the butter melts. Stir occasionally, until the garlic turns slightly golden. If you have some drippings from the steak, you can add them to the mixture.
- Lay the charred bread in the pan for a minute to soak up the butter and garlic. Then cut it into slabs or wedges to serve.
- Dress the greens and lay them on a platter. Add steak slices and vegetables so everyone can build their own salad and grab some bread on the side.