My “Improv” Beef Salad: Absolutely Plant-Based

Whenever I notice lots of odds and ends in the fridge, (think half can of kidney beans, a small hunk of cheese, leftover veggie stir-fry from two nights ago), I improvise a dinner from them all, plus some fresh ingredients to round it out.

Today was one of those days: too hot to want the oven on and a lot of leftover goodies that deserved attention. We eat a very plant-based diet, but I also had about half a pound of lean top round steak that I knew would cook quickly. Done.

I just rubbed the steak with garlic powder, oregano, dried Italian herbs, and Old Bay seasoning (this stuff isn’t just for shellfish!). Into the cast-iron pan for few minutes on each side and the cooking was done – almost. To the beef bits at the bottom of the pan I added just a little EVOO and caramelized half a sliced onion slowly.

Here’s the “improv” part: greens of choice but basically anything edible you have on hand that can be eaten chilled or at room temperature. Here’s what happened tonight:

Farmer’s market stuff:

• Golden beets, just steamed
• Radish greens and beet greens that I had stir-fried yesterday.
• Tomatoes
• Fresh corn, removed from the cob after cooking

Other odds and ends:

• Celery stalks and leaves
• Garbanzo beans
• Bean salad (made with elephant, or “gigante” beans) from the Greek deli
• Greek feta (not local but the Greek deli sells the best), used up what was left
• Black olives from the deli bar

It was delicious and plant-based, but included every food group:

• Lean meat: the top round has 200 calories in 4-oz and that includes 29 grams of protein. If I’d had a smaller steak, I’d have used less.
• Dairy: love the tang from the feta
• Legumes: two types of beans – garbanzos and giant elephant beans, all told about half a cup per serving.
• Veggies: loaded. Absolutely loaded. The corn? It’s a whole grain, even if it’s often considered a “starchy vegetable”.
• Fruit? I suppose you can count the tomato. Sometimes I add an apple, cut into chunks, but I had so much stuff to use up it wasn’t necessary.


• Legumes: two types of beans – garbanzos and giant elephant beans, all told about half a cup per serving.
• Veggies: loaded. Absolutely loaded.
• Fruit? I suppose you can count the tomato. Sometimes I add an apple, cut into chunks, but I had so much stuff to use up it wasn’t necessary.

I’ve often included some dried cranberries and walnuts or pecans, if there were small amounts left in bags. After all, this is a meal to tidy up the fridge and the pantry.

Top round steak is a lean cut and 4-oz. is plenty, especially with all the other ingredients. You can dress this platter with oil and vinegar, but I just used some balsamic.

Note: this platter had only 4-oz. of beef. The salad was large but a lot of it was airy greens at the bottom. I made 2 platters – my other half enjoyed the other one!

Champagne steak salad

You can get a lot of delicious, lean, and professionally tested recipes, like this champagne steak salad, at beefitswhatsfordinner, or you can use the beef you have on hand and “improv” your way to a terrific, plant-based beef dinner on your own.

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