Bring together best of salads and summer grilling

J.M. HIRSCH AP Food Editor Published:

Summer is prime time for salads and grilling. So why not bring them together in one delicious dish?

One of my favorite warm weather meals involves just that. I pile my dinner plate with the makings of a robust salad -- a mass of greens, sliced carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, often even leftover grilled vegetables from the night before. Then I thinly slice whatever meat I tossed on the grill and use that to top the salad. A sprinkle of vinaigrette and it's good to go.

For this salad, I went with my favorite grill-friendly steak -- flank. It takes well to seasoning rubs, cooks quickly and slices nicely. For the seasoning rub, I went with a simple blend, the highlights of which are fennel seeds and cumin (but you could substitute whatever seasonings you prefer).

Be warned: this is no frilly salad. To stand up to hot steak, a salad must be robust. Plus, the point here is for it to be a meal, not a side.

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FENNEL-CUMIN FLANK STEAK SALAD

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

1 1/4 pounds flank steak

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves garlic, minced

5-ounce package baby arugula

1 green bell pepper, cored and diced

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

4-ounce log soft goat cheese

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat the grill to medium-high.

In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, combine the fennel, cumin, mustard, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Grind well, then rub the mixture over both sides of the flank steak. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and garlic, toss well, then set aside.

Divide the arugula between 4 serving plates. Top with the bell pepper and avocado. Crumble a quarter of the goat cheese over each plate of arugula, then sprinkle with dried cranberries.

Using an oil-soaked paper towel held with tongs, oil the grill grates. Add the steak and grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak against the grain, then heap a quarter of it on top of each salad.

Spoon a quarter of the tomatoes, as well as any liquid in the bowl, over each salad.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 570 calories; 290 calories from fat (51 percent of total calories); 33 g fat (11 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 75 mg cholesterol; 26 g carbohydrate; 48 g protein; 7 g fiber; 920 mg sodium.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook "High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking." Follow him to great eats on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch or email him at jhirsch(at)ap.org.