Ultimate Steak Salad with Watercress and Fresh Herb Vinaigrette

Note: Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt and Four Sixes Ranch Brand Beef made this post possible through their support.

keep Austin salty sign
Keep Austin Salty Y’all!

I was lucky enough to be asked by Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt to be part of building a great summer recipe and activation in Austin, Texas.  It was so much fun (even though the temperature was rated as “inferno.”)  I cooked an Ultimate Steak Salad with Watercress and Fresh Herb Vinaigrette, and it really hits the spot on a hot summer night.

Grilled Ribeyes are the Chef’s Kiss!

If I had to pick a last meal, it would definitely involve ribeye.   Prior to working with this activation, I had not tried steaks from Four Sixes Ranch Brand Beef (yes, that Four Sixes Ranch from the Yellowstone TV show!)  However, I’m now a fan.  The steaks were trimmed exceptionally well (so you’re paying for steak, not extra fat) and were deliciously beefy and tender.  Ribeyes contain enough intramuscular fat to keep them moist and tender, but are enough of a “working muscle” to keep them flavorful.  Look for good internal marbling and a nice 1/4″ fat trim when selecting your steaks, or simply order online from a good purveyor like Four Sixes Ranch to ensure you get a great steak.

Melissa in front of grill

As much of a ribeye lover as I am, I don’t particularly want a whole one in the summer.  By adding grilled ribeye strips to a salad, you can easily turn one ribeye into a dinner for two to four people.  I cook the ribeye exactly as I would as if I was cooking steaks for an entree, but just slice into strips to top the salad.

Make your own Vinaigrettes for Amazing Flavors

I’m a big believer in making your own vinaigrette dressing.  They are so simple to make and allow you to flavor them exactly as you would like.  For this vinaigrette, I used fresh chopped herbs as well as one of my favorite ingredients, pink peppercorns, to make a smooth vinaigrette with some little flavor pops to keep it interesting.

Steak salad with herb vinaigrette
This beautiful salad will be a delicious addition to your summertime menu


Generally, vinaigrettes will contain some seasonings, a vinegar or acid ingredient (lemon juice, vinegar such as balsamic, champagne, or sherry,) an emulsifier such as egg yolk (Caesar dressing) or a mustard, and oil, and sometimes a sweetener like honey to take the edge off the vinegar.  I like to use an aged vinegar as it has a much smoother and “rounder” flavor.  For this dressing, I use a whole grain mustard as the emulsifier.  I also use a blend of canola or other neutral flavored oil mixed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  You can use just EVOO, but sometimes the flavor of the olive oil will overwhelm the dressing.  Make sure to slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking.

For this salad, I use watercress.  The peppery leaves are strong enough to stand up to the bold flavors of the dressing and ribeye, yet tender enough for an amazing salad.  I toss my favorite ingredients that I have on hand into the salad as well.  I locechopped heirloom tomatoes, radishes, strawberries, cucumbers, peppers in my salads.  Choose your own favorites and put in the bowl.  Place ingredients in a large mixing bowl, drizzle over vinaigrette, then use tongs to toss the salad with the dressing.  Place salad on a platter for serving.

A Note About Salt

Any good meal starts with good seasonings.  The base of this seasoning rub is Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt.  Look, if you are still using iodized salt in your kitchen, please stop.  Almost all chef recipes are written with “kosher salt” as the ingredient.  Most chefs prefer Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (yes, the brand makes a huge difference!)   Different salts have different crystal structures that affect their density.  A tablespoon of iodized table salt has 53% more sodium than a tablespoon of Diamond Crystal Salt.  If you cook a recipe that seems way over salted, that could be a prime reason why.  Relative to other kosher salt brands, Diamond Crystal has a coarse enough texture to pick up but is fragile enough to crush between your fingers.  This gives you more ways to season the exact right amount for your dish.  I like it because it dissolves faster than other kosher salts as well, at least in my experience.  That way I can add the perfect amount of salt to a dish without oversalting.

seasoning steak
Keep your hands about 6 inches above whatever you’re seasoning for good coverage

Seasoning, Tempering, and Cooking your Ribeye

The Four Sixes ribeyes are cut to about 1.25″ thickness, which is a good thickness for a simple grilling technique.  Any thicker than this and I usually cook steaks with a “reverse-sear” method.  But at this thickness, I want to cook this steak hot and fast.  Prepare your grill to run at 500 to 600 degrees (yep, that’s hot!) I use GrillGrates as they cut down flames and give great grill marks, but you don’t have to.

While your grill is heating up, remove the steak from the fridge and season it fully on both sides.  Allow to sit out (lightly covered) at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking.  This is called “tempering” the steak, and will yield a more controllable finish temperature without burning.

Grilled steak salad
The steak salad literally melted in your mouth!

For amazing grill marks, imagine there is a clock face on the grill.  For the start, place the ribeye on the grill grates with one end at “10:00” and one end at “4:00.”  Cook for 2 minutes, then turn the steak a quarter turn so it is orientated to 2:00 and 8:00.  Cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Flip steak over with the same 10/4 orientation, then quarter turn once more after 2 more minutes. Continue to cook until the internal temperature hits 126 degrees (if you would like a medium steak.) Remove, lightly cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Slice and serve over the salad.

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Steak salad with herb vinaigrette

Ultimate Steak Salad with Watercress and Fresh Herb Vinaigrette


Summertime demands grilled flavors, and nothing beats a delicious grilled ribeye.  This recipe for the Ultimate Steak Salad with Watercress and Fresh Herb Vinaigrette makes for an amazing lunch or dinner entree.  Easy enough for a weeknight dinner or elevated enough for having friends over for dinner, this recipe will be on your go to list.



For the Vinaigrette

1 medium shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 TBS whole grain mustard, or Dijon mustard

2 TBS champagne vinegar

2 tsp honey

1 tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, plus to taste

2 TBS warm water

1/4 cup EVOO

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup pink peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar, optional

1 cup mixed herbs- Italian parsley, basil, and rosemary; finely minced

For the Salad

6 oz watercress

1/2 cup each of your favorite salad ingredients- sliced strawberries, bell peppers, onions, radishes, tomatoes, etc

For the Steak

1 1.25″ thick prime ribeye, such as one from Four Sixes Ranch brand beef

1/4 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

2 TBS coarse ground black pepper

2 TBS smoked paprika

1 TBS granulated garlic

2 tsp granulated onion

2 tsp dried oregano


For the Vinaigrette

In a small mixing bowl, add shallot, garlic, red pepper flakes, champagne vinegar, honey, warm water, salt, and mustard.  Whisk to incorporate

In a separate measuring cup, add canola oil and olive oil

While whisking the main ingredients, slowly drizzle in oil to form an emulsion.  Add in herbs and peppercorns, if using.  Adjust for salt.

Note: vinaigrette can be made in while steak is tempering, or can be made up to a few days in advance and stored in the fridge.  If refrigerating, remove at least 30 minutes before using then lightly whisk to reincorporate ingredients.

For the Salad:

In a large mixing bowl add watercress and your favorite salad ingredients.  Drizzle about half of the dressing into the bowl and toss the dressing and salad using tongs.  Place salad on large serving platter.  Reserve remainder of dressing if guests want extra.

For the Steak

In a small bowl, add all seasonings and mix together.

“Temper” the steak by removing it from refrigeration and packaging at least 30 minutes before starting to cook.  Season steak thoroughly on both sides, then lightly pat seasoning into steak.  Lightly cover until ready to cook.

When grill is very hot (550-600 degrees) lay it on grill grates with a 10:00 to 4:00 orientation (imagine a clock face on your grill.) Cook for 2 minutes.

Using tongs pick up grill and give it a quarter turn to a 2:00 to 8:00 orientation and let it cook 2 more minutes.  This will develop a diamond shaped grill mark.

Turn steak over and repeat.  After the last quarter turn, temp the steak.  Remove it from the grill when it is at 126 degrees if you want a medium steak.  Remove to a pan, lightly cover, then rest for 10 minutes.

Uncover steak, slice in to 1/4″-1/3″ wide slices, then lightly season with more Diamond Crystal Kosher salt.  Place on platter with salad and serve.


Please invest in good quality meat thermometer to achieve the best results for this dish.

  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8-10 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: American/Steak

Keywords: Ribeye; Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt; Steak Salad;