Now that it’s May (whaaat???), we’re about 3.5 weeks away to the unofficial start of summer (aka: Memorial Day). And I don’t know about you, but the thought of swimsuit season being that close sends me into a mild panic.
I say “mild” because I have more important things to worry about these days than looking good in a teeny bikini. Not knocking that as a priority, of course (more power to ya!), but life has shifted my focus elsewhere as I get older. Still, I’m always looking for ways to increase my greens intake. If eating more salads and fewer french fries helps on the bathing suit front too, well then so be it. While I love a good green smoothie to meet my quota, salads always seem to fit into my life a little bit better. I’m a big fan of eating my calories, as opposed to drinking them (Also, maybe it’s just me, but smoothies only keep me full for like…20 minutes. Womp womp). I feel far more satisfied after eating a salad than I do drinking a smoothie.
There is a catch to my salad obsession. I’ve said this before, but in order for me to be on the salad train, I need things to be (and stay!) interesting. I need lots of ingredients and fun dressings to keep me into it. I guess you can say that I like my salads on the high maintenance side. Otherwise, I just feel depressed over “lunch” consisting of sad greens on a plate with a few sliced veggies and bland poached chicken breast thrown on top. Boo to boring salads! Let’s stop the sad lunch habit now.
Cobb salads have always been one of my favorites. I mean, what’s not to like. There’s bacon, eggs, avocado, cheese, and usually a deliciously creamy dressing. It’s less of a salad and more of a deli sandwich with a few greens thrown in to make us feel OK about eating it. Right? I’m not as inclined as I once was to order said salad off a menu because, well, my metabolism is aging right along with the rest of me. Calories are like prized coins to me these days. Only the most spectacular wishing wells can claim them.
This salad counts as one of those wishing wells. For sure.
If you’re like me and cherish your calories, then today’s salad is for you. It’s a leaner version of a cobb salad for all your well-intentioned lunch (or dinner!) plans. I’ve made a few tweaks to the classic, and I think it still can be categorized in the delicious column.
First, I added some seared steak to the mix. Which, really, is always a good idea. Second, I made my own dressing from sweet, caramelized onions and tangy Greek yogurt. Not only is it incredibly flavorful, it’s the perfect compliment to the steak, avocado, and eggs topping the salad. A little bit sweet and a little bit tangy. In other words: INTERESTING. Which we already know is key.
The rest of the salad ingredients kind of came to me organically (read: it’s what I had in my fridge at the time). They are customizable to what you want/need on your salad, of course. For instance, I probably would have thrown in some crispy bacon if I had it on hand, as well as some crumbly cheese like feta or bleu. But I have to say…the salad did not suffer one bit without those things being present (and neither did my waistline!). The buttery avocado, rich steak, and creamy eggs made up for it. And then some.
While I will never get up on my soapbox and declare this salad as “the salad to end all salads” (because, really, who can claim that? Salads are so preference based, in my opinion), this was a wonderfully satisfying lunch loaded with protein, greens, and flavor (duh). It’s hard to downplay all the awesomeness going on….and so I won’t.
This protein-packed, lower-calorie cobb salad is definitely going to be in our regular lunch rotation through the summer. It’s that good.
And bonus: it definitely keeps me full for longer than 20 minutes!
For the Dressing:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- ½ cup low-fat buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Steak:
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 (6-oz) filet mignon steaks (or whatever cut you prefer)
For the Salad:
- Mixed greens
- Red onion
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Bleu or feta cheese crumbles
- The steak
- The dressing
For the Dressing:
- Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add in the onion and a pinch of salt and stir to coat in the melted butter. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low, add in the sugar, and cook for 20 minutes or until the onions are golden brown and super soft. Allow to cool.
- Add the onions to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple times to break them down. Add in the yogurt, buttermilk, and vinegar, along with a pinch of salt and quite a bit of ground pepper. Pulse to combine.
- Stream in a little more buttermilk if the dressing is too thick. How much you add will depend on the type of yogurt you use.
- Taste, adjust the seasoning as necessary, and then transfer to an airtight container. The dressing can be made up to a week ahead and kept in the fridge.
For the Steak:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the surface of the steaks dry with paper towels and then season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Add about a tablespoon of oil to the hot pan and then add the steaks. Sear over medium-high heat, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes per side. You want a deep, golden brown crust.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 130°F for medium to medium-rare (actual cooking time will depend on the size of your steaks. I recommend checking after 5 minutes).
- Remove the steaks from the pan, place on your cutting board, and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing for the salad.
For the Salad:
- In a large bowl, toss together the greens, onion, avocado, tomatoes, eggs, sliced steak, and dressing. If desired, sprinkle on some bleu or feta cheese crumbles. Serve immediately.