awesome (steak) sauce

I’ve already written about the dinner party dessert I made this summer to accommodate the food restrictions of some lovely guests. The dessert was a fairly quick and easy choice, because I’d been looking for an excuse to make it for a while. But it took me a little longer to come up with a main course. This is perhaps small minded of me, but it tends to be hard for me to imagine a truly tasty entree without the crutch of a starch. I spent some time flipping through my stack of cook books and searching around on favorite blogs and pinterest, and kept coming up empty. And then, happily, I remembered steak and tomatoes with toasted spice vinaigrette.


I first had this deliciousness thanks to my lovely friend Sarah, who brought the whole kit and caboodle–steak, tomatoes, and sauce–for dinner at another friend’s house. We had all been impressed enough when she offered to bring over dinner, but when she showed up with this? Dang. So I knew it hit another criteria I love in my dinner party food: it was definitely make ahead-able. I looked up the recipe, and it was perfect: relatively quick, gluten free and really simple but special feeling main course that gets it’s oomph from a complex tasting sauce. Slices of tomatoes (which I know we may be running out of time for, but hopefully there are still a few lingering at the farmers market) are covered with a layer of sliced grilled steak, and vinaigrette is spooned over the top. Nice and easy, and oh so good. The hardest part of the whole thing is grinding up the spices, and that’s not exactly hard.

so much smashing.

so much smashing.

The actual grilling of the steak required for this recipe makes me a little nervous, and I’m happy to pass the task off to Hal. It’s something I know I should get confident with, but I’m in no real hurry. Making the vinaigrette, on the other hand, couldn’t be easier. Toast and then smash up a bunch of beautifully fragrant spice seeds, then whisk the crunched up bits together with oil, vinegar, Dijion, salt and pepper. That’s it for one of the most flavorful sauces I’ve had in my kitchen. It’s earthy and smokey, with a great sharpness from the vinegar and mustard. Serious tastiness for minimal effort. Perfect for gluten free dinner parties, picnics at other people’s houses, and the weeknight steak I’m determined to have more of in my life.


toasted spice vinaigrette 
from Bon Appétit

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toast coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Let cool, then smash to teeny bits with a mortar and pestle–the original directions recommend that you “chop” the spices, but in my experience this will just make them fly all the heck and gone over your kitchen.

Whisk the spices with oil, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

I can imagine lots of tasty uses for this sauce, but the only ones I’ve tired so far are the original recommendation–poured over sliced grilled steak layered on top of sliced tomatoes–and just over steak by itself. Both were delicious.

Vinaigrette can be made 4 days ahead. Cover and chill.


stacks of steaks.


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