Ingredients Jump to Instructions ↓

  1. For the Lime-Cilantro Dressing:

  2. 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 3 or 4 limes)

  3. 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce , such as nam pla

  4. 1 or 2 jalapeno chiles (to taste), roughly chopped

  5. 3 garlic cloves, smashed

  6. 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro , including stems

  7. For the Garnish:

  8. 2 cups cooked jasmine rice , cooled

  9. 1/2 cup Lime-Cilantro Dressing

  10. 1 pound mesclun salad mix

  11. For the Salad:

  12. 1 eggplant (about 1 pound)

  13. 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

  14. 5 garlic cloves, chopped

  15. 2 shallots , thinly sliced

  16. 8 ounces lean high-quality coarsely ground beef or coarsely ground chuck steak

  17. 8 ounces spinach, well rinsed, stems removed

  18. 4 scallions (green with some white parts), thinly sliced

  19. 4 beefsteak tomatoes or 4 red Roma tomatoes and 4 yellow Roma tomatoes, tops removed and insides scooped out

Instructions Jump to Ingredients ↑


  2. Put the lime juice, fish sauce, chiles, garlic, and cilantro in a blender and puree. Before serving, taste the dressing and add more minced jalapeno if desired. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.


  4. Heat the rice in a nonstick pan over high heat and toast, swirling and shaking the pan for about 10 minutes or until the rice is fragrant and brown (be careful not to scorch the rice, but it should be well toasted). Set aside, let cool, and grind to a powder in a spice grinder. In the same pan, toast the peanuts over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown; take care not to burn. Let cool and chop.


  6. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and lightly oil the cut side with the 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Roast the eggplant cut side down on a baking sheet in the oven for about 1 hour, or until tender. When cool enough, remove the pulp with a spoon and chop. Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat, add the garlic, and stir rapidly for 2 minutes until it just begins to brown. Turn down the heat to medium-high, stir in the shallots, and sauté for 3 minutes longer. Add the beef and cook for about 5 minutes longer or until just browned, using a fork to break up any lumps. Remove from the heat and drain off any fat. Add the spinach to the pan and cover briefly to allow the spinach to wilt, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and let cool. Add the scallions, chopped eggplant, and cooked rice and stir to incorporate. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing to the ground beef mixture and stir gently to combine.

  7. TO SERVE:

  8. Toss the mesclun salad mix with enough of the remaining dressing to lightly coat; serve the rest of the dressing at the table. Place the mesclun salad on chilled plates. Make 5 partial cuts down the sides of the tomatoes so that they open like the petals of a flower. Lay the tomatoes in the center of the greens on each plate and mound an equal portion of the beef salad in each tomato. Sprinkle the rice powder and peanuts and garnish with cilantro leaves.


  10. Although wine is rarely selected to accompany a salad dish, in this case, a light acidic red wine such as a Spanish Rioja would be pleasingly harmonious. Alternatively, serve a fruity white wine such as Gewurztraminer from Alsace or California.


  12. The roasted rice powder is delicious on salads and soups and will keep for several weeks in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator or in a cool dark place; the same is true for the toasted chopped peanuts. It is important to purchase the jasmine rice in a store with high turnover, otherwise it may have sat on the shelf for a long time and have lost its aromatic quality. Don't bother to make the rice powder unless it is top quality. For the cooked rice used to stuff the tomatoes, by all means use leftover rice. If Asian fish sauce is unavailable, you may substitute 3 tablespoons soy sauce mixed with 4 smashed anchovies.


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