Portland, Ore., is home to a superb dining scene that often sets the trends through its network of exciting restaurants. Famous for its laid-back but inspiring food scene, it was home to the birth of the food-truck craze (there are more than 600 in the city). Visiting Portland recently, I saw that the new trend is vegetable-forward cooking, where vegetables are the main attraction, with protein in a supporting role.
At a conference in Madrid that I attended, Joan Roca, chef-owner of three-star Michelin and S. Pellegrino No. 1 restaurant in the world El Celler de Can Roca, said emphasizing vegetables is the most important food trend in the past 10 years. He believes that proteins belong in the background. This is not a move to vegetarianism, but to using the diverse taste, colour and texture of vegetables as the basis of the plate. Roca also noted that prices in restaurants would be kept down if vegetables became the focus, an important point in our skittish economy.
In my recipe (which owes a deep thanks to the Italian restaurant Ava Genes in Portland for the idea) the steak portion per person is four ounces, but the vegetables are a much bigger part of the dish. Bound together with a rich demi-glace sauce, it is a dish this side of heaven. Demi-glace is available at good butcher shops if you prefer to buy it. Omit sauce instructions if you do.
Ready time: 1½ hours
1 pound (500 grams) rib-eye steak
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup red wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 cups beef or chicken broth, or 1 cup demi-glace
1 teaspoon thyme sprigs
1 ½ tablespoons cold butter
1 pound (500 grams) red fingerlings
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 ounces (60 grams) green and yellow beans
4 baby bok choy
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
4 shishito peppers
1 yellow zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 shiitake mushrooms, halved
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chervil or tarragon or lemon thyme
Season steak with salt and pepper.
Let sit for 2 hours.
Bring red wine and balsamic vinegar to boil. Boil until wine is reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 5 minutes. Add stock and thyme and reduce at a low boil to 1 cup, about 45 minutes. (If you are using prepared demi-glace, just heat with thyme until warm.) Swirl in butter. Reserve.
Place potatoes and garlic in a pot of salted cold water. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. Drain and return to pot to dry off. Let sit until cool, then remove from pot and cut potatoes in half. Bring more water to boil in same pot. Add beans and boil for 2 minutes or until tender-crisp.
Add the bok choy and boil just until slightly wilted, 1 more minute. Drain vegetables and refresh with cold water until cold. Reserve vegetables.
Preheat grill to high. Brush steak with 1 tablespoon oil. Sear steak 3 to 5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, or until medium-rare. Remove to board and let sit for 10 minutes.
Heat a large pan over high heat while steak is cooking. Add remaining oil and toss in potatoes. Sauté until the cut side has browned, about 3 minutes. Add shishitos, zucchini and mushrooms.
Stir-fry until they begin to colour, about 2 more minutes, then add the cooked vegetables. Stir-fry everything together until vegetables are hot. Stir in sauce and toss until vegetables are coated.
Season with salt and pepper if needed.
Slice steak into ¼-inch slices and divide amongst 4 plates. Top each steak with a portion of vegetables and sauce.