Wow, does this dish look classy, right? But look at the ingredient list — not too long. And look at the steps — pretty darn simple.
My boys love all kinds of steaks, though a perfect, tender filet distinctively communicates "special occasion." They are no harder to cook than any other steaks; just make sure to have the temperature high enough in the pan that the outside gets nicely seared while the middle remains pink, and be careful not overcook it. A medium rare filet will have an internal temperature of 130 F.
Pistou is similar to pesto, though often made with a looser consistency, and sometimes the pine nuts and/or Parmesan cheese are omitted, resulting in a simpler basil, garlic and olive oil sauce. That's the drizzle you're going for here, just a pop of herb-infused green olive oil to brighten up that perfect little filet. Then all you need is a handful of lightly dressed baby greens on the side and you are in business. There are so many appealing combinations of greens available either by the pound or in 5-ounce plastic containers in the produce aisle, some with herbs or other add-ins, and it's an awfully easy way to keep changing up your green salad.
Of course, you are welcome to round out the meal with the starch of your choice, anything from mashed potatoes to buttered noodles. But there's no question that the star of the plate is the steak.
Filet mignon with pistou and green salad
Start to finish: 25 minutes
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 5-ounce filet mignon steaks, about 1-inch thick
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
5 ounces mixed baby lettuces
Make the pistou: Place the garlic cloves in a small food processor and mince. Add the basil and process again to chop, then add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, some salt and pepper, and blend until it becomes a bright green sauce.
Season the steak generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy skillet, such as cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and when the oil is hot, sear the steak for 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove the steaks to a cutting board and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.
While the meat is resting, in a large bowl combine the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine, add the lettuce and toss.
Serve the filets with a drizzle of the pistou on top, and a couple of handfuls of the dressed mixed greens. Pass the rest of the pistou on the side for extra drizzling.
Nutrition information per serving: 542 calories; 356calories from fat; 40 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 116 mg cholesterol; 231 mg sodium; 2 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 42 g protein.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman.