We’re easing into fall with this Mocha-Rubbed Steak and Spinach Salad topped with tender roasted squash, dried cranberries, caramelized pecans, and crumbled blue cheese! This entrée salad is drizzled with a sweet n’ tangy white balsamic honey vinaigrette and fresh rosemary. A delicious early fall, gluten-free, and keto-friendly dinner perfect for any night of the week!
Fall starts Monday and let’s just say my neck of the woods didn’t get the memo. We’re going to have hot summer temps for the rest of the month. So as much as I’d like to hop on the apple and pumpkin bandwagons seen on social media feeds, I’m transitioning more slowly. I love everything fall has to offer, but why not hang on to grilling season while it’s still here.😉
Also, thanks so much for being patient with my pace of posts. I have an ambitious cooking schedule, but it’s full-blown soccer season for us, which means needing to clone myself to get to my kids’ games is very real. With a high school senior and freshman, this mama is busy and going through a myriad of emotions. Those of you who’ve been there so get it. I’d love to hear from you in the comments!💕
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Making Mocha-Rubbed Steak and Spinach Salad
To kick things off, a nine-spice mixture gets rubbed into (not sprinkled on!) olive oil coated steak. The spice blend includes s&p, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, nutmeg, and the mocha mixture of espresso and cocoa powder. I used thick sirloins, but flank, skirt, and filet would be super delish as well. Be sure to adjust your cooking times according to the thickness of cut you choose.
Toppings & Substitutions
The beauty of big salads like this is their versatility. So I’d like to offer variation suggestions rather than regurgitate the recipe you can easily jump to below. Here’s some food for thought! (Sorry, not sorry for the pun😄)
- Protein – Above are steak substitutions for sirloin, but chicken, pork, fish, shrimp and tofu would totally work here. Also, I included indoor cooking instructions for the steak in case your weather isn’t conducive for outdoor grilling.
- Spices – I’ve been making this rub forever and the fam doesn’t want to deviate. Nonetheless, change and spice things up to your culinary heart’s content.
- Greens – We prefer spinach or romaine when it comes to raw super greens, but hey kale fans, go for it.
- Squash – Butternut is one of my favorite veggies on the planet so you’ll find it well represented on this site, and certainly was a winner here. Acorn will definitely work too, but it’s starchier and not very keto-friendly if that’s important to you.
- Other Toppings – A small amount of blue cheese goes a long way and was a fantastic complement. Sub goat cheese or feta if you like. I went with caramelized pecans for crunch but sprinkle on your nut of choice. I love sweet n’ tart dried cranberries yet raisins, dried apricots or fresh berries will be super scrump.
- Dressing – This white balsamic vinaigrette with honey and fresh rosemary accented the flavors perfectly without overpowering. It literally takes less than five minutes to make, but if you’re strapped for time use your favorite bottled dressing. No harm, no foul.😊
Hope you enjoy this Mocha-Rubbed Steak and Spinach Salad as much as we do, or create your own spin! It’s all good. Cheers, friends!! xx, Kim
Entrée Salad Inspiration
No matter what time of year it is, entrée salads are fun to put together and a deliciously perfect way to take advantage of what’s in season. Here are a few more ideas that are quick and easy to pull together.
- Farmers Market Salad w/ Halloumi & Adobo Chicken
- Shrimp Garden Salad w/ Sesame Lime Dressing
- Citrus Salad with Avocado & Goat Cheese
- Smoked Salmon Spinach Salad w/ Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
- Fall Harvest Apple & Kale Salad (by Half Baked Harvest)
- Cast iron skillet (if not grilling)
- Instant-read thermometer
- 9×13 baking dish
- Mixing bowls
- 7-inch Santoku knife
- BPA-free cutting boards
Mocha-Rubbed Steak and Spinach Salad
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 sirloin steaks, about 1 ½ pounds total, each 1 ¼ – 1 ½ inch thick
- 1 pound butternut or acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 5- ounce package baby spinach
- ¼ cup dried cranberries or golden raisins
- ¼ cup toasted or caramelized pecans or walnuts
- ¼ cup blue, gorgonzola, feta or goat cheese
- ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped, plus extra sprigs for garnish
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Combine first nine ingredients in a small bowl.
- Rub olive oil all over steak. Evenly rub spice mixture on steak.
- Transfer steak to wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet (if you don’t have one, don’t sweat it and chill uncovered up to six hours to help form a crust.
- Remove steak from fridge one hour prior to cooking.
- Prepare grill* on medium-high.
- Grill steaks 6-7 minutes per side for medium rare**, 125-130°F.
- Let steaks rest 10 minutes then slice thinly.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place squash on a rimmed baking pan.
- In a small bowl combine the melted butter, honey, and brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour butter mixture over the squash and toss until well coated.
- Place pan in the center of preheated oven and bake 20-25 minutes until fork tender. Stir halfway through cooking time.
- To arrange the salad, place spinach in a large bowl. Pour some of the dressing over just enough to lightly coat.
- Arrange the spinach on a large platter. Top with steak slices, roasted squash, cranberries, nuts, and cheese.
- Drizzle more the dressing over top and pass the rest separately. Garnish with rosemary sprigs. Enjoy!
- Add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake vigorously until combined or whisk in a small bowl.
- Dressing can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let come to room temperature before using.
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