My impatience for spring’s unofficial and official arrival is growing wildly out of control. Between the wait for the official first day of spring on March 20 and the wait for the end of the winter storms continuously rolling into the valley, I feel like spring will never settle in.
I figured I would do my part to help nudge the transition along. So this week, instead of making a big pot of comforting, hand-warming, homemade soup to curl up on the couch with, I am having a salad!
Yes, a salad! A fresh vegetable-filled salad with a port wine balsamic vinaigrette so I can hopefully send out a message to the weather that winter is over.
One of my favorite perks of having a freezer filled with a variety of wild game is the ability to quickly toss together a salad or throw on a pot of soup. This kale, steak, and blueberry salad can be adjusted for personal preference and to utilize whatever is sitting in the freezer or fridge.
For the steak, I am particular to deer for salad. I love the way venison pairs with greens; however, elk, pronghorn, or even moose, if you have it, are great for salads as well. Cook the steak to your preferred finish—mine is medium rare—and thinly slice to add over the salad.
For other swaps, changing up the berries or nuts in this salad can change the flavor profile of the entire dish. Other berries that would be fantastic include strawberries or raspberries. Non-berry substitutes could be apples or pears. The nuts can be switched for whatever one’s favorite might be, including almonds, macadamia, or pecan. If you aren’t a fan of cooking with alcohol, you can substitute cranberry or pomegranate juice for the port wine.
So, check the pantry, scour the fridge, and clean out the freezer so we can all make a spring-style salad this weekend and push this winter weather on along.
Deer and Kale salad
- 6- to 8-inch chunks of favorite wild game (venison, elk, moose, etc.)
- 6-8 cups chopped kale
- 4 slices bacon
- Shredded carrots
- Diced cucumber
- 2 cups toasted walnuts
- Pint blueberries
- Pint goat cheese crumbles
- Salt and pepper
Port wine balsamic vinaigrette ingredients
- 1/2 cup port wine
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Few sprigs thyme
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
For port wine balsamic vinaigrette
- In a small saucepan, add the port wine, balsamic vinegar, honey, thyme, and minced shallot.
- Simmer over low to medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until reduced by about half. Remove from the heat to cool.
- In a dressing shaker, add the Dijon mustard and olive oil. Mix together.
- Once port sauce has cooled, add to olive oil mixture.
- Shake and season to taste with salt and pepper.
For venison steak salad
- Preheat oven to 500.
- Take the steak out of the fridge; let it rest at room temperature for ten to fifteen minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon: In a heavy-bottomed skillet, preferably cast iron or at least something that can go from stovetop to oven, cook the four pieces of bacon until crispy.
- Drain the bacon on a paper towel; reserve the bacon grease to cook the steak.
- Season liberally with black pepper.
- Add the steak to the bacon grease skillet: heat over medium-high and cook the steak for three minutes per side.
- Once the oven is hot, place the steak skillet into the oven. Cook for five minutes.
- Pull steak and let rest for ten minutes.
- Add walnuts to the skillet and toast in the oven for five minutes.
- To assemble the salad, fill a bowl with chopped kale, then top with thinly sliced steak, carrots, cucumber, toasted walnuts, and blueberries. Sprinkle on a serving of goat cheese and crumbled bacon bits and drizzle with port wine balsamic vinaigrette.
Lindsey Bartosh, an eighth-generation Moab girl, loves hiking, hunting, fishing, cooking, writing, photography, and working on her website www.huntingandcooking.com.