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This delicious Flank Steak Salad with Orange Vinaigrette contains perfectly reverse-seared flank steak (no grill required), fresh winter oranges, Thai basil, arugula, peeled carrots, and avocado.
But last year, before the craziness of COVID-19 made grocery shopping hard for an autoimmune compromised person like me, I was on a major health kick. And this salad made me feel good about my eating choices. As an extra bonus, it also uses anywhere from four to six oranges depending on their size and juice content.
Flank Steak Marinade
For the flank steak marinade, you’ll need:
- 1 to 2 pounds flank steak, cut into four equal-sized steaks
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed
- 10-12 Thai basil leaves, stems attached (you can use regular basil too)
- 2 cups soy sauce
One pound of flank steak will be just enough for the salad, with rather skimpy servings of meat. Two pounds leaves about a 1/4th portion of leftovers, which I used to make fajitas the next night. Pick whatever portion best serves you.
First, pat the steak dry with paper towels and trim off the excess fat. Take the flank steak portions and rub the pressed garlic into the steaks, doing both sides.
Add all the marinade ingredients to a sealable bag and let the meat marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or up to 6 hours in the fridge.
You might be tempted to let the flank steak marinate for 24 hours. But don’t do it. Because I did it for you and found out the results aren’t good.
I thought, the longer the marination the better, right? And this is true most of the time, but you have to consider the amount of meat, salt, and time in each case.
Flank steak is a thin enough cut and there is enough salt in soy sauce that 24 hours of marination dried the meat out. My steaks were curling up when I took them out of the marinade and were dry and overly salty when cooked.
3 to 6 hours is my ideal marination time, but 1 hour at room temperature is still very good.
Can you cook flank steak in the oven?
One of my goals, when I set out creating this recipe, was to discover if there was a way to cook flank steak in the oven and get results as good as grilling.
And the answer to the question was to reverse sear the flank steak. By cooking the flank steak on low heat in the oven and then very briefly searing them in a skillet, the results were, in my opinion, as good as grilling.
How to Reverse Sear Flank Steak
30 minutes before you plan to cook the steaks, take the marinade out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take the steaks out of the marinade and pat them dry. Then place them on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.
Put the steaks in the oven and cook them for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted through the side into the center of the thickest steak reads anywhere from 115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the steaks cook in the oven, prepare the Orange Vinaigrette salad dressing and assemble the salad.
Once the steaks have reached 115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, take them out of the oven. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place the steaks down, searing them for a total of 4 minutes, flipping every minute.
Depending on the size and shape of your flank steak, you might have to do three steaks at once and do the fourth by itself.
When is Flank Steak Done?
If you want to check for doneness, use a thermometer and follow these guidelines to fit your personal preference:
- Rare: 125 degrees Fahrenheit
- Medium Rare: 135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Medium Well: 155 degrees Fahrenheit
- Well Done: 165 degrees Fahrenheit
Keep in mind that the meat will continue to cook after it’s taken off the grill (known as carryover cooking). So, taking the steaks off the skillet about 5 degrees below your target temperature will get you the best results.
Let the flank steaks rest for 10 minutes on a wire rack before cutting. Once they are done resting, transfer them to a cutting board with the grain running left to right and cut the steaks against the grain as thin as possible.
Flank Steak Salad Dressing
As the steaks marinate or cook in the oven, you can make the dressing. The dressing can also be made up to three days in advance.
I’ve provided two different dressings for you to choose from:
- A white-wine vinegar and olive oil-based vinaigrette
- And a rice vinegar and sesame oil-based vinaigrette
I was curious how a more Asian-flavored inspired dressing would play up the Thai basil and soy sauce marinade. Because I liked both dressings, I decided to provide them both as they are pretty similar.
For the Orange Vinaigrette you will need:
- 1 tablespoon shallots, finely diced
- 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon orange zest, grated
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
In a mason jar, combine the shallots and vinegar together and let them sit for 15 minutes. While the shallots soak, zest and juice an orange or two until you have the amount you need.
You can also move on to preparing the salad ingredients.
Once the shallots have been in the vinegar for 15 minutes, add the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients to the mason jar. Seal and shake the mason jar vigorously until combined. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Orange Sesame Vinaigrette
For the Orange Sesame Vinaigrette, you will need:
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 4 teaspoons rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- ¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon orange zest, grated
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Combine the garlic and rice vinegar in a mason jar and let them sit for 15 minutes before combining everything together and shaking.
Flank Steak Salad
I have a new favorite way to assemble salads that ensures the smaller items don’t fall to the bottom of the bowl, making it hard to get a good serving of everything.
It involves mixing the greens with a portion of the salad dressing and then layering all the smaller items on top before drizzling the rest of the dressing over everything.
This Flank Steak Salad contains a mixture of greens including:
- Baby spring mix – I used Organic Girl’s Baby Spring Mix, which contains tango, baby spinach, baby red and green oakleaf lettuce, baby red and green chard, lolla rosa, arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, red butter lettuce, etc. I like the mix of different textures, colors, and sweet flavors.
- Baby arugula for a peppery kick
- Dandelion greens are extremely healthy for you and I like how crunchy the stems are. However, they aren’t for everyone as they can be fairly bitter. You can switch them out for the green of your choice.
- Thai basil – for the anise and licorice-like flavor that I really love. Its leaves are more narrow with some of them being a deep purple. The stems are long and deep purple and sometimes there are purple flowers on the tips. I find it at my local Asian grocery store and it’s labeled as húng quê. You can use regular basil if you want.
Along with the greens are:
- Peeled carrots – I love the texture of peeled carrots and I think it’s the ideal way to add carrot to any salad
- Oranges – for bright and sweet pops of seasonal flavor
- Avocado – because I’m a California girl? I can get good avocados almost all year round and I love them in my salads.
- Flakey sea salt – this is such a small thing you can do to really make the salad pop
Flank Steak Salad Assembly
In a large bowl, combine and mix the greens, peeled carrots, and 2/3 of the dressing. Arrange the oranges on top of the greens and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Use a spoon to scoop out spoonfuls of avocado and arrange them on top of the orange sections, sprinkling them with flaky sea salt.
Pour the rest of the dressing on top of everything and arrange the sliced steak on top and serve.
Flank Steak Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Flank Steak Marinade Ingredients
- 1 to 2 pounds flank steak See Note 1
- 4 large garlic cloves, pressed
- 10-12 Thai basil leaves, stems attached See Note 2
- 2 cups soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Orange Vinaigrette Dressing Ingredients (see Note 3)
- 1 tablespoon shallots, finely diced Orange Sesame Vinaigrette Dressing: 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger + 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar Orange Sesame Vinaigrette Dressing: 4 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil Orange Sesame Vinaigrette Dressing: 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest grated
- 1/4 salt
Flank Steak Salad Ingredients
- 4 cups baby spring mix
- 4 cups arugula
- 4 cups dandelion greens See Note 4
- 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups Thai basil leaves
- 4 cups peeled carrots (2 to 3 large carrots) See Note 5
- 2 oranges, cut into bite-sized sections about 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups
- 1 avocado
- Flaky sea salt
Flank Steak Instructions
- Pat the steak dry with paper towels and trim excess fat off.
- Cut the steak in half lengthwise and then crosswise, making four, roughly equal-sized steaks.
- Rub the pressed garlic into the steaks, making sure to do both sides of each.
- In a zip-lock bag, add the steaks and Thai basil leaves. Pour the soy sauce over the steak, seal the bag, and let it marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or up to 6 hours in the fridge.
- 30 minutes before you plan to cook the steaks, take the marinade out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature.
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.
- Take the steaks out of the marinade and pat them dry.
- Place the steaks on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and put in the oven.
- Cook for 45 to 50 minutes until a thermometer inserted through the side into the center of the thickest steak reads anywhere from 115 to 120 degrees F.
- While the steaks cook, prepare the salad.
- In a 12-inch skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place the steaks down, searing them for a total of 4 minutes, flipping them every minute (see Note 6). If you want to check for doneness, use a thermometer and take the steaks off 5 degrees below your target temperature (see Note 7).
- Return the steaks to the wire rack and let them sit for 10 minutes.
- Transfer the steaks to a cutting board with the grain running left to right and cut the steaks against the grain as thin as possible. Set aside to mix with the salad.
Orange Vinaigrette Dressing Instructions
- In a mason jar, combine the shallots and white wine vinegar together. Let the shallots sit in the vinegar for 15 minutes. For the Orange Sesame Vinaigrette version, combine the pressed garlic and rice vinegar in a mason jar and let it sit for 15 minutes.
- Add the orange juice, extra virgin olive oil, orange zest, and salt to the mason jar, seal, and shake vigorously to combine. Taste and add more citrus or salt if necessary. For the Orange Sesame Vinaigrette version, combine the grated ginger, orange juice, sesame oil, orange zest, and salt to the mason jar, seal, and shake vigorously to combine.
- Set aside (see Note 8)
Flank Steak Salad Instructions
- In a large salad bowl, combine and mix all the greens (baby spring mix, arugula, dandelion greens, and Thai basil) and the peeled carrots. Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the greens and carrots and mix well.
- Arrange the orange sections on top of the greens and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
- Use a spoon to scoop out spoonfuls of avocado and arrange them on top of the orange sections. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
- Pour the rest of the dressing on top of everything and arrange the sliced steak on top. Serve (see Note 9).
- 1 to 2 pounds flank steak. 1 pound will make just enough for the salad, while 2 pounds will have about 1/4 of the steak leftover.
- Thai basil (also called húng quê’) has an anise and licorice-like flavor that I really love. Its leaves are more narrow with some of them being a deep purple, the stems are long and deep purple, and sometimes there are purple flowers on the tips. I find it at my local Asian grocery store and it’s labeled as húng quê’. It’s not the same as Thai Holy Basil, which is spicy, peppery, with clove-like flavor. You can use regular basil if you want.
- I’ve provided two different ways you can make the Orange Vinaigrette Dressing. The standard white wine vinegar and olive oil-based one is a little lighter and more subtle. The rice vinegar and sesame oil-based one is a little heavier and plays up the other Asian ingredients.
- You can substitute 4 cups arugula for the 4 cups of dandelion greens if you can’t find any or if you don’t like them. Dandelion greens are a little more bitter than arugula but have a similar peppery bite. They also have a little bit of a crunch to them because of the stems.
- Peel the outer layer of the carrots off first and discard. Then use the vegetable peeler in the same way to peel the carrots. This is much easier (and faster) if your carrots are very large.
- Depending on the size and shape of your flank steak, you might have to cook 3 steaks at once in the skillet and cook the fourth by itself.
- Rare: 125 degrees F, Medium Rare: 135 degrees F, Medium Well: 155 degrees F, Well Done: 165 degrees F
- The dressing can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for 3 days.
- This particular way of making the salad ensures you don’t have to mix everything together. I always hate how when you mix salads together all the smaller items fall to the bottom and it’s hard to get a good serving of everything. This way, you simply use serving utensils to grab a big portion from bottom to top.
A Note on Where I’ve Been
The last time I published anything was February 28, 2020. Like everyone, I really struggled with 2020. I survived emotionally by focusing on learning new things and by staying away from social media.
I’ve been editing all my Health Update posts because a health emergency made me want to review everything once again. It’s been a lot of work but now they are all more readable and searchable. I feel like I’ve just re-written my very rough first draft of my autobiography.
My 2020 highlights, good and bad, include:
- Becoming an aunt to the most amazing nephew ever
- Experiencing the stress and worry over a grandparent having a serious accident and being hospitalized in a time of COVID-19
- Having to put down my dog Shay-the first pet I ever had
- Evacuating my home because of the LNU Fire
- Being hospitalized and having my third surgery for a small bowel obstruction during COVID-19
- Loads of follow-up appointments, physical therapy, and imaging tests
I’ll be writing about my recent health emergency soon now that I’ve cleaned house. Until next time, stay safe and eat well.