A picnic is one of those elusive, mysterious things that, like a unicorn, no one is really sure if it actually exists. When I see pictures of wicker baskets and blankets at the beach or in a field with utensils and plates and elaborate cheese spreads (or the best I ever saw: fried chicken - what? - it's difficult to eat in any setting) and champagne flutes spilling over with bubbly, all I think about is the sand that is ever so slightly dusting the cheese board whenever anyone shifts their body an inch, not having enough hands to hold a glass and a plate and cut a piece of cheese or attack my greasy fried chicken situation without a sink to wash my hands in sight, and also keep the hair out of my face, and all those weird tiny bugs that are crawling in and around the food and the humans. Am I alone in this? It’s always “wow that looks amazing, but is it actually?”
That being said, I’m all about a picnic. Eating outside in the summertime, sans table, sans chairs, well it’s one of those special things that makes everything feel just right. But reality is reality, and only certain things can be devoured sans table and chairs, let alone travel well. But this picnic we had, which was completely spur of the moment on one of the first beautiful nights of summer, was perfect, in its own right. Not perfect like Pinterest-perfect, but perfect like I didn’t have sand in my food and I had enough hands to survive. We even brought our crazy dog who might just love a picnic more than us, and there wasn’t an elaborate spread for her to happily trounce through and ruin (a la Annie at Lillian’s shower in Bridesmaids, if you will).
So we threw together this salad and put it in a huge Tupperware container (why didn’t I take a sexy picture of it?), along with the sliced steak in a smaller container and the dressing in a mason jar. We also brought a couple of different beers to share (and we remembered to bring a bottle opener, #blessed). We also brought cloth napkins because it was so easy to wrap them up in the blanket after to be washed (plus you know I’m just a sucker for pretty cloth napkins). Unbreakable wooden salad bowls, forks and knives. Done!
Wait one more! At the last minute I sliced a couple pieces of this rhubarb crostata I had just made for dessert and piled them in another really sexy Tupperware.
After throwing our blanket down, all we had to do was pour the dressing over the salad, re-cover and shake the container a bunch, and serve it in the salad bowls, topped with some sliced steak. When we were done with our beers, dinner, and dessert, everything fit inside the large salad Tupperware to be washed or discarded at home. The blanket was just wrapped up with our napkins to also be washed at home. It was such a nice laid-back picnic that felt easy and natural, the way a picnic should feel. And this steak salad is my dream salad (it always has been, especially in the summer, and always with Gorgonzola and red onion) with all my favorite ingredients and a great savory dressing.
Picnic steak salad
Yields 2-3 large servings
14 oz. T-bone steak, seasoned and grilled to temperature (I like medium rare) - we marinated ours in 2 T each olive oil, Worcestershire, pepperoncini juice, as well as a little Sriracha, juice of half a lemon, minced garlic clove, and a generous amount of salt and pepper
Steak salad dressing (recipe below)
3-4 cups field greens (or whatever kind of greens you like; I love arugula with steak), tightly packed
¼ cup chopped parsley
Handful Peppadew peppers (sweet piquante pepper), whole or chopped
½ cup Gorgonzola cheese
Handful thinly sliced red onion
Handful pepperoncinis, chopped
Extra sprinkling of sea salt and more freshly cracked black pepper
Steak salad dressing
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T pepperoncini juice
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 dashes Worcestershire
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste