South American Salad

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According to Amazon, I purchased this cookbook in May of 2006. I don’t remember why I purchased it – for one thing I’d never heard of David Rosengarten, and secondly, it turns out the book is about party menus.

Menus are my favorite things to put together! So I didn’t expect to like the book.

Not only does he have a chapter for every theme party, like Love Me Tandoor, Tunisia for Twelve, and Zorba the Grill, plus recipes for food and drink, there are ideas for set dressing and table dressing, what we now call tablescapes. Plus, he provides resources.

Now, I’ve never been Martha Stewarty enough to buy lanterns for the garden for my themed party – heck, I’ve never had a themed party. Although I have many playlists. My Mexican playlist doesn’t usually last beyond the first hour. Such picky friends.

In any case, I ended up loving this book. The guy knows his cuisines, and the menus really are wonderful.

The book, published in 2005, shows five testimonials on the back cover, from Lidia Bastianich, Chef Marcus Samuelson, Ted Allen, Gale Gand, and Stanley Lobel. Turns out the guy has won two James Beard Awards. And I’ve still never heard of him!

The recipe I want to share I’d made once for the blog, when I was so excited to share special dishes I loved, but before I could take decent photos of them.

This salad is one of those. It’s from the South American Steak on the Grill party, which has the least cutest name of all featured in the book. I’ve actually made most all of the recipes from his South American menu, but this salad really stands out.

The salad contains tomatoes, potatoes, avocados, purple onions, hard boiled eggs, and a parsley vinaigrette. So it’s also lovely.

South American Salad
Serves 12
Slightly adapted

1 pound waxy potatoes, peeled
4 firm ripe Haas avocados
Fresh lime juice
Kosher salt
Handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 medium purple onion, cut into 1/2” dice
8 firm, ripe medium tomatoes, cored, cut into 1/2” dice
Freshly ground black pepper
8 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled

Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked but still firm. Drain and cool. Quarter, and cut quarters into 1/2” slices. Place in a large serving bowl.

Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. Scoop out the flesh in one motion using a large spoon, then cut into 1/2” dice. Drizzle with fresh lime juice over all surfaces, toss with salt, then add the avocados to the bowl with the potatoes.


Add the parsley to the potatoes and avocados. Add the onion and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the vinaigrette (below) to taste, tossing gently but well.

Cut the eggs into quarters lengthwise then cut each quarter in half. Add the eggs to the salad, and toss just enough to combine the eggs with the other ingredients.

Or, just lay the eggs on top of the tossed salad, which is what I do.


Taste for season, serve with more vinaigrette on the side.

The only negative of this salad is that it can look a bit messy. That’s actually why I use bigger chunks of potatoes, and try to use ripe but firm avocados, if possible.

But the most important thing is to not mess with it much. Toss gently, and leave it alone.

The salad is truly magnificent with the fresh vinaigrette and the lovely colors, flavors, and textures.

Parsley Vinaigrette
Makes 2 cups

2-3 shallots, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Place all of the ingredients into a blender jar. Blend until smooth.

Chimichurri

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I’ve made chimichurri a few times over the years when I’ve prepared South American*-inspired meals for company. For one meal, I grilled skirt steaks and served both green and red chimichurri sauces. I preferred the green.

But other than that I haven’t paid much attention to chimichurri, which originated in Argentina. I only see it associated with meat, which is so quintessentially South American. Grilled meat. Lots of meat.

I decided to make chimichurri again and really focus on its goodness and, of course, I decided to use it on steaks. I don’t want to rock the South American boat here.

So what exactly is chimichurri? It’s basically like an oil and vinegar mixture that includes chopped green herbs and garlic.

So I’m not being very creative here using chimichurri, but it doesn’t really matter. Once you’ve made it, you don’t care if you ever have it any other way other than schmeared on a steak. It’s that good.

But I can definitely see it on shrimp as well. Or poultry. Or toast. For breakfast.

Chimichurri

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Few grindings black pepper

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Combine all of these in a small bowl, then add:

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

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Then stir in:

1/2 chopped parsley, loosely packed
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, loosely packed

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Mix everything together well.

Today I wanted to use the chimichurri for a marinade as well as a “finishing” sauce so to speak, so I placed two filets on a plate, and covered them with a generous amount of chimichurri.

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After about 30 minutes, I turned the steaks over and added more chimichurri.

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Before cooking the steaks, I wiped off the chimichurri sauce. The tops and bottoms of the steaks were oily, so I didn’t have to pat them dry. But I did add a little oil to the skillet first before searing the steaks.

After cooking to medium rare and letting them rest, I sliced the steaks, and placed them on a bed of sauteed spinach with tomatoes and onions.
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Then I drizzled some of the chimichurri sauce over the steaks.
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The freshness of the chimichurri sauce, from the cilantro and parsley, plus the garlic, is a perfect foil against the mellow, sweet steak. It’s a marriage made in food heaven!
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* I know, South American inspiration for a meal is a bit all-consuming since it’s a continent, but there are aspects to South America that stand out from a culinary perspective. And those typically are more Argentinian and Brazilian in origin. The meals revolve around meat, but there are also beans and grains and lots of green. If you’ve never delved into the cuisines of South america, I suggest you look into them. I’ve just barely broken the surface…

note: This recipe is perfect to me. I love the addition of the dried oregano and crushed red pepper. If you want a thicker sauce, whether for use as a marinade or for serving, purée it. I know that goes against the tradition of the fresh herbs and garlic in the oil and vinegar mixture, but then at least the parsley and cilantro leaves don’t get stuck in your teeth. I think it’s a reasonable option. You can also cut back on the volume of vinegar as well. It’s personal choice, as long as you don’t change what the chimichurri is all about.

Bison Matambre

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I’d just thawed out two bison hanger steaks and instead of making fajitas with them, I wanted to roll them up with some kind of filling. I was originally thinking of making German rouladen but my husband doesn’t like pickles. So I picked up my big South American cookbook, called the South American Table, by Marie Baez Kijac, and there was exactly what I was looking for! Rolled up flank steak with veggies inside, called matambre

Matambre is flank steak rolled up with spinach, asparagus and roasted red bell peppers, after some marination time, and then poached in beef stock. I was definitely tempted!

So here’s what I did.

Matambre

2 – 1 pound hanger steaks or flank steaks
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Beef broth, home made or purchased, plus water if necessary
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Spinach leaves, which I forgot
Cooked asparagus
Slices of roasted red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, whisked
Cheesecloth and string

First, don’t do what I did and marinate the beef or bison first, without pounding them beforehand with a mallet. You need to make them thinner, and more even in their thickness. You’ll be overlapping the steaks in order to make the roll. Can you tell there are two steaks in the photo?!!!

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Then, place the flattened steaks in a pyrex or nonreactive baking dish. Add the vinegar, oil, oregano, garlic pepper, salt, and black pepper. Cover and marinate overnight.

Because I didn’t pound my steaks first, the seasonings that you see below on the steaks flew all over my kitchen while I was pounding away the next day, so I think it’s smarter to pound first, then marinate.

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The next day, remove the hanger steaks from the marinade and place them on paper towels. Then overlap them on your cutting board, and using your mallet again, pound the steaks together where they overlap. (You could make two smaller rolled steaks if you prefer.)

Place the beef broth in a large pot and start warming it up. The broth will have to cover the roll by at least 2 inches.

Cover the hanger steaks with the parsley and crushed red pepper.
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If you happen to remember, cover the steaks with spinach leaves. However I forgot to do this, even the spinach leaves were right there next to me.

Cover the steaks with about half of the Parmesan.

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If you remember to use the spinach, cover the cheese with the spinach leaves

Then add rows of the vegies in a crosswise direction.

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Add the rest of the Parmesan. Then drizzle on the whisked egg.

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By this time the broth should be boiling.

Roll up the steak and place on your cheesecloth. Roll it into the cheesecloth, and then tie it up like you would a roast. Then tie the ends to keep everything snug.

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Using tongs, place the roll into the boiling beef broth. Cover the pot, and simmer the roll for exactly one hour.

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After an hour, remove the roll and let it sit on a plate, emptying the plate occasionally of the broth, for about 15 minutes. Then carefully remove the cheesecloth and carefully slice away, making about 1/2″ slices. Serve hot or warm.

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If you want to eat the matambre as the South Americans do, let the roll cool in the beef stock for 30 minutes first, then transfer it to a plate and put weights on a board over the roll for a few hours or overnight. Then slice and serve. That would be beautiful for a picnic or on an hors d’oeuvres platter. I think I might do that next time, and also remember the spinach leaves.