Maple and blue cheese meet in a perfect pair, on a bed of greens and a sweet, maple-glazed steak. This happens to be my favorite “meal” salad, and it needs nothing else. It’s sugaring season, when the sap in the maple trees is running, and while we do notice our maples in the backyard running, we don’t actually tap our own. However, down on the reservation where Ole works, they most definitely are participating in the sugaring off: taping and boiling, which inevitably leads to baking. But this time I’m not baking. I’ve done plenty of that too, and I plan to do more. But this is about maple’s savory side, in a salad. A salad that my “no sweets or nuts in my salad” husband ate and admitted to liking.
It starts with apple cider vinegar. This happens to be the regular variety because we bought it at Target, but I’m going to recommend you use raw, unfiltered cider vinegar. Our bottle exploded in the garage this winter when the temperature hit -14, much like our back patio door, and I had yet to replace it.
Mix the vinegar with the same amount of pure maple syrup.
Pour it over your steak and let it sit and marinade for at least 30 minutes.
Add just enough maple syrup to cover a small amount of walnuts. Who needs croutons when you have glazed nuts on your salad?
Spread the coated nuts on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. The parchment will keep them from sticking.
After about 7 minutes, when the maple is brittle, remove them from the oven and allow to cool.
For the vinaigrette, mix together apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, a bit of minced garlic, some fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
Whisk in some extra virgin olive oil and it’s ready to go.
Pull the steak out of the marinade and toss it on a preheated grill, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Flip and rotate the steaks three times for 2-4 minutes a side.
Let the steak rest for five minutes while you assemble the salad.
Start by halving a few tomatoes and dicing a small bunch of scallions.
Layer, starting with the spring mix.
Then slice the steak thinly.
And add the steak strips to the salad.
Drizzle on the vinaigrette. Be sure to shake or whisk first.
And enjoy. What I love about this salad is how well the maple complements the saltiness of the blue cheese and the tang of the apple cider vinegar. I’ve made this for the kids before while Ole was teaching, and I am always amazed at their willingness to eat all of it without complaint. This time was no different, and Ole even managed to set aside his salad biases and was pleasantly surprised.
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
salt and pepper
For the vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
4 cups spring mix
5 thin scallions
10 cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup walnuts
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Start by marinating the steak. Mix together the apple cider vinegar and the maple syrup and pour over the steak to cover. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Mix together all vinaigrette ingredients except for the oil. Whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.
Toss the walnuts in 3 tablespoons of maple syrup until completely coated. Spread onto parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350° F for 5-7 minutes until maple is hardened. Remove from oven. Allow to cool before breaking apart.
Heat grill to 500°. Clean thoroughly with wire brush. Turn grill down to med-low. Remove steaks from marinade. Place steaks on grill and season with salt and pepper, flip and rotate 3 times at 2- to 4-minute intervals depending on desired doneness.
Allow steak to sit under tented foil for 5 minutes. Cut into thin strips. Between two plates layer spring mix, chopped scallions, halved cherry tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles and the roasted walnuts. Top with the steak strips. Add dressing. Serve and eat immediately. Try not to groan too much.
Makes 2 servings with extra dressing. Store dressing in the fridge and allow to sit on counter before next use.