This salad was developed by one of the best chefs in the world Chef Bernie Kantak in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’ve put my own twist on it, but kept the same spirit. Mixing the salad at the table sets the perfect scene.


1/4 cup basil pesto

1/2 shallot, roughly chopped

1/2 cup aioli (see note)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

Best Salad Ever
Best Salad Ever


1/3 cup cooked Israeli couscous

2 ounces chopped arugula

1/3 cup diced roma tomatoes

1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil

Drizzle of balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup diced smoked salmon

1 tablespoon crumbled Asiago or Feta cheese

1 tablespoon toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

2 tablespoons dried black currants

For the dressing:  Combine pesto, shallot and aioli in a food processor; blend thoroughly. With motor running, add buttermilk. Add pepper and lemon juice; blend to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: Aioli is like garlicky mayonnaise. Look for it in gourmet food stores, or make your own by blending together 1 to 2 finely minced garlic cloves, 1/3 cup olive oil and  1/4 cup mayonnaise.

For the salad:  Combine the cheese, pepitas, and currants together to make trail mix and set aside. Combine tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar and set aside. Start arranging ingredients in separate rows on a large platter or bowl. Begin with salmon, following by a row of arugula, then couscous, trail mix, sweet corn, and last a row of the tomatoes. Toss salad at the table, using about half of the batch of dressing. (Refrigerate remaining dressing up to three days.)

Chimichurri is a light, oil-based condiment with origins in Argentina. The name comes from a Spanish Basque word that means “a mixture of several things in noparticular order.” In South America, each family has their own version of a chimichurri recipe handed down over centuries. I like it because it is bright and fresh with a ridiculous amount of flavor. Plus, it is great to use throughout all of the dishes for an entire meal. One tip, though—rough chop the parsley and cilantro by hand. If you use a food processor the herbs will turn to puree and you will end up with baby food instead of a condiment or sauce.

Chimichurri Base

3 cups packed cilantro leaves, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon chili flakes

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 serrano chili, chopped

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon verbena, chopped

1 tablespoon thyme, chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Dump all ingredients in food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds. Divide into two half-portions. Use one half-portion of chimichurri base as marinade for flatiron steak. Use second half-portion of chimichurri base to make marinade for tomatoes, salad vinaigrette, and meat drizzle.

Chimichurri Marinated Flatiron Steak

1 1/3 pounds flatiron steak

6 shallots cut in half

1 cup chimichurri base

1 yellow zucchini, cut in half

1 green zucchini, cut in half

Pour chimichurri base on steak in pan and lay shallots on top. Let sit for at least 3 hours up to 5 hours. Remove steak from marinade and grill for 3-4 minutes. Grill zucchini for 3 minutes. Then, put back in pan and finish in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Marinated Tomatoes

¼ cup chimichurri base

2 drops oregano essential oil

3 drops black pepper essential oil

1 drop lemon essential oil

2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped (or 4 cups chopped)

2 ounces shaved manchego cheese

Place all ingredients except cheese in bowl and let sit for couple of hours. Right before serving, mix cheese into tomatoes.

Chimichurri Vinaigrette

½ cup chimichurri base, pureed

1 teaspoon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 medium shallot, sliced

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 drops oregano essential oil

2 drops lemon essential oil

2 drops thyme essential oil

Place all ingredients in a shaker cup and shake well to combine.

Chimichurri Meat Drizzle

¼ cup chimichurri base

2 drops oregano essential oil

2 drops black pepper essential oil

1 drop lemon essential oil

2 drops rosemary essential oil

Combine all ingredients in shaker cup and shake well to combine. Drizzle over grilled flatiron steak as finish.

Grilled Salad

2 cups baby arugula

2 heads Romaine lettuce, cut in half

Brush of chimichurri base

2 ounces shaved manchego cheese

Chimichurri Vinaigrette

4 slices Italian Rustic bread

Brush cut-side of lettuce with chimichurri base. Place cut side down on oven burner or grill. Chop grilled lettuce and arugula together. Mix half of cheese into chopped salad mix. Toss with Chimichurri Vinaigrette. Grill bread on oven burner then put in oven to finish for 5 minutes to make crisp like a crouton.

Putting it All Together

Lay grilled bread on plate. Top with grilled salad mix. Slice zucchini and lay on top of grilled salad mix. Spoon marinated tomatoes and cheese over salad mix. Slice flatiron steak and lay on top of tomatoes. Last, drizzle with chimichurri drizzle and salt and pepper to taste.

Grilling the romaine lettuce gives a unique depth of flavor that takes an ordinary salad to a new level. Simply adding olive oil and balsamic and letting the salad sit while you finish making dinner makes an easy dish seem so complex.

6 hearts of romaine, cut in half lengthways, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon kosher or flake salt, 1 tablespoon pepper. Char for 10 seconds. Chop roughly. 

Pork belly: Smoke in applewood for 20 minutes, then braise in apple juice for 2 hours. Cut in chunks and pan fry for about 10 minutes until browned and crispy. Put pork belly croutons in bottom of bowl.

Balsalmic dressing: Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Lay charred lettuce over and let it sit until ready to serve. 

Invert salad bowl onto plate so that the pork belly and dressing end up on top.

Sprinkle with cheese mixture: 1/4 cup grated rosemary Asiago cheese,  1/4 cup grated fontina cheese, and  1/4 cup grated pecorino romano. Drizzle with additional 2 tablespoons balsamic and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.