- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2011

If you want to add great flavor to foods without using the usual tricks - fat and salt - just head to the grill.

The high and dry heat created by the grill does an excellent job at searing food surfaces and locking in natural flavors, while also adding that unmistakable charred, smoky flavor. And this all comes at no cost in terms of fat and calories.

Typically, we think of the grill as the way to cook the main course - the burgers, some chicken, or a steak. But you also can take advantage of this healthy cooking technique to make other parts of the meal, including the sides, breads, even fruits for dessert.

This salad of steak and spring vegetables uses the grill to cook and flavor the meat, as well as many of the other components of the dish.

We’ve chosen to use sirloin steak, which is not only a budget-conscious option, but also falls in the extra-lean category of beef. It still has enough fat that it won’t dry out on the grill (as long as you don’t cook it past medium).

For all the good flavor the grill brings to these foods, you still want a tasty dressing. Our bright, lemony vinaigrette calls for a little less oil than a traditional recipe, but uses some grated Parmesan cheese to help give it body and keep it emulsified.


For the dressing:

5 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:

1 pound sirloin steak, 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick, trimmed of fat

1/2 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound asparagus, bottoms trimmed

14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

4 cups arugula

Shaved Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)

Heat a gas grill to high or light a charcoal fire.

To make the dressing, in a blender combine the lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Blend until emulsified. Set aside.

Season the steak on both sides with the salt and pepper. Grill the steak, about 5 minutes per side for medium rare, 6 minutes per side for medium. Remove and let rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill the asparagus and artichoke hearts, turning occasionally, until slightly charred and the asparagus spears are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the grill and cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces and the artichoke hearts in half. Place the vegetables in a large bowl with the cherry tomatoes.

Thinly slice the steak across the grain and add to the bowl with the asparagus and artichoke hearts. Toss with half of the dressing.

In a large salad bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining dressing. Place some of the arugula on each serving plate and arrange the grilled steak and vegetables on top. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serves five.

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