Sunday, September 28, 2008

Steak au Poivre with Pasta Pesto and Goat Cheese-Walnut Salad - 9/25/08

This menu pretty much created itself after my mom sent me a recipe for a pesto made with arugula and walnuts instead of basil and pine nuts. Arugula has a nice peppery flavor to it, so what better to pair with it than steak au poivre and a salad with walnuts.

Steak au Poivre with Pasta Pesto

Cook up the pasta according to package directions. I used creste di gallo (rooster crowns - they look like large macaroni with some fringes on them) because I liked the multiple colors they come in. For the pesto, combine one garlic clove, salt, half a cup of walnuts (toasted for extra credit), 2 cups arugula, half a cup of basil, 2 tablespoons of parmigiano, and one tablespoon of lemon juice in a food processor. While processing, stream in about one third cup of olive oil until the pesto is smooth. Adjust the flavor with salt and pepper as desired. Toss the pesto over the pasta.

For the steak, salt both sides of the meat and cover both sides with cracked peppercorns. If you want a lighter pepper flavor (or if you start sneezing uncontrollably), you can use ground pepper, just make sure you use a good amount of it. The pepper is the only real seasoning for the steak, so use as much as you can tolerate. You may be concerned that the pepper will be overpowering, but the cooking process dulls the flavors a bit so you probably won't have a problem. Anyways, cook the steak in a pan to desired doneness. If you really want, you can add a little brandy or red wine to deglaze the pan, then add a little heavy cream and cook until thickened. Be careful with the cream, though, because if you cook it too long past the thickened stage, the sauce will break and become more watery. This sauce is not totally necessary to enjoy the dish, though, as the pesto makes a nice accompaniment.

Goat Cheese-Walnut Salad

For a nice side salad, start with a base of fresh spinach and arugula, then add some toasted walnuts and crumbled goat cheese. For the dressing, whisk together some walnut oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard. Pour a smattering if this dressing on top of the salad and toss to mix.

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