Steak, Fregola, Corn and Leek Salad
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes
This is a versatile summer salad, and a great way to use up leftover grilled steak odds and ends, which pair well with the roasty-toasty fregola.
¼ cup olive oil
8 large leeks, washed well and cut into ½-inch rounds (see Kitchen Tips)
4 ears corn, shucked and cleaned well (see Kitchen Tips)
2 cups fregola
10 ounces cooked rib steak, flank steak, or any steak off the bone, cut into 1-inch by ½-inch pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon piment d’Espelette, optional
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (see Kitchen Tips)
- Prepare the leeks: Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan set over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the leeks and stir well. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes, or until the leeks are very, very soft. Set aside, retaining all the oil. (If you wish, this can be done up to 2 days in advance and the leeks can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator.)
- While the leeks are cooking, prepare the corn: Heat a grill pan or a grill to high heat. Place the corn on the grill and cook, turning with tongs periodically for about 2 minutes, until the corn darkens but is not soft; some pieces will be burnished. Remove from the grill, cover with foil and set aside until cool enough to touch. Cut all the kernels off the cobs (see Kitchen TIps) and using the back of the knife, scrape the cobs for any corn milk.
- Prepare the fregola: Pour the broth into a large pasta pot or small stockpot set over medium-high, cover and bring to a boil. Add the fregola and stir well. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fregola is al dente. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside.
- Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the leeks, corn, fregola, and steak and toss gently to incorporate all the ingredients into the fregola. Add the salt, pepper, piment d’espelette, and vinegar and toss well again to blend.
- If you have leftover grilled vegetables—or if you want to grill some up— by all means add them to this salad, which is infinitely adaptable.
- If you haven’t cooked with leeks before, you need to know a few things: they’re delicious, but they absorb an amazing amount of soil as they grow, so you’ll need to wash them extremely well. First, remove the tough green outer leaves and root ends of the leeks and slice them as directed (For half circles, cut them in half lengthwise and then crosswise.) Fill a bowl with water, place the leeks into it and wash well, separating the interior layers with your fingertips. Leeks absorb huge amounts of dirt and sand as they grow, so keep washing until they are perfectly clean; the dirt should fall to the bottom of the bowl while the leeks float to the surface. Lift the leeks out of the bowl and set aside (Don’t drain by pouring the water out of the bowl over them or you will be pouring the dirt back onto them.) Rinse the bowl thoroughly, fill with water, return the leeks to the bowl and soak until you are ready to use them.
- To cut the kernels off a fresh ear of corn, shuck it well and place it on a work surface. Cut it in half crosswise. Stand it on the work surface, cut-side-down, and with a sharp knife, cut downward to remove the kernels. For more tips on corn prep, see The Weiser Kitchen’s post Love Me Some Corn.
- Yes, regular balsamic vinegar would work in this salad, but it will turn the whole thing a less-appealing shade of brown. So would the genuine Sardinian article—saba.