I am sure this salad sets the record for most ingredients — steak, mushrooms, goat cheese, hard boiled eggs, pecans, bacon, sage, cilantro, chives, basil, lavender, honey, croutons and many others. But Craig Cyr’s point was to show off the great local products from Saturday morning’s farmer’s market. It worked. The executive chef and owner of The Wine Cellar & Bistro in Columbia put on a cooking demonstration using almost entirely fresh and local goods. He made the most elaborate salad I’ve ever seen, but it was one of the best I’ve tasted, too.
“The market this morning seemed to scream salad,” Cyr said. But with a slight chill in the air he decided to make a warm vinaigrette for a hearty lunch or dinner salad. The idea gradually came together at the market and in the kitchen, then continued to evolve as he prepared the dish in front of the crowd.
He put an Asian style marinade on the flank steak from Show Me Farms. Then he sautéed mushrooms in butter and white wine, and made a red wine vinaigrette with bacon and chives — very French. Thus, he dubbed the salad “East meets West.”
I loved that every bite was different from the previous. Sometimes you got a lion’s mane mushroom and lavender-scented pecan. Then it would be a bite of cilantro, bacon and egg. You’d get steak with goat cheese. Or spinach and a crouton. There were different textures, and the sweet, sour and savory balance was perfect.
I don’t know how much of each ingredient Cyr used, but I’ll go through the ingredients and process he went through. You can try to create something like it, or at least try some of the elements in a salad of your own.
Craig Cyr’s Warm East Meets West Salad
Demonstrated at the Columbia Farmers Market Spring Round Up
- Flank steak
- Garlic, minced
- White pepper
- Crushed red pepper
- No salt
Mix all ingredients together and marinate flank steak for 2-3 hours. Cyr says that’s enough to start to tenderize the meat. Much longer than that and you start to lose the natural beef flavor. While it marinates, prepare the other parts of the salad.
Later, come back and cook the steak. A few minutes on each side in a cast iron or on the grill is all it needs. You want a tender pink center. Allow to rest for a few minutes, then cut with the grain to get nice wide slices.
- Hard-cooked eggs
- Dill (He used ground dill seed, but fresh is even better, he said)
- Green onion tops, chopped
- Olive oil
Chop hard cooked eggs and toss with dill, green onion tops and olive oil.
- Lavender (dried flower buds)
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
In a skillet with olive oil, cook pecans, sage and lavender quickly. Sprinkle with a small amount of sea salt. Let cool, then grind briefly in food processor or chop by hand. You still want good-sized bites of pecans.
- Mushrooms (oyster, shitake, lion’s mane)
- White wine (pinot blanc)
- Sea salt
Cook mushrooms with a big pat of butter. When they start to shrink, add white wine and let that cook until the wine flavor is subtle. Sprinkle with a little sea salt.
- White part of green onions, chopped
- Bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces (bigger than bits)
- Red wine vinegar
- Chives, chopped
- Olive oil
- Ground pepper
For the warm vinaigrette, add cooked bacon and the white part of green onions to a pot. Add red wine vinegar to deglaze the bottom, then pour in honey. Add extra virgin olive oil. The ratio of oil to vinegar should be 3 to 1. Mix in chopped chives and fresh ground pepper.
- Mixed greens (spinach, tatsoy, and others)
- Goat cheese (from Goatsbeard Farm)
- More bacon pieces
- Croutons (from Uprise Bakery bread)
- Cilantro, chopped
- Basil, sliced very thinly
Toss fresh greens with vinaigrette. Layer with eggs, pecans, bacon, mushrooms, croutons, crumbled goat cheese, flank steak, cilantro and basil.