Brenda Stanley
Belle's Italian Steak

One of the most effective ways to learn how to cook is being in a situation in which you have to. When you don’t have the money to eat out, you make do and find creative ways to use what you have on hand.

My Italian Steak uses ingredients that almost every pantry has on hand. The secret is in a savory dressing that is drizzled over the steak just before serving. The ingredients are simple but the result gives just the right touch to a perfectly cooked steak.

I learned a lot about food and cooking through necessity. Trial and error was also helpful. My early exploits in cooking had me literally blowing fire off of food. I’ve undercooked breads and mixed up measuring spoons and ended up with things that even the dog didn’t touch. There were more occasions than I can count that I was waving smoke away from a blaring smoke detector and staring at a roast that had shriveled up to the size and consistency of a brick.

What I’ve learned through my many culinary adventures is to keep things simple. You can’t work, raise five children and expect to spend hours dicing five different types of vegetables and trying to measure 20 different spices.

Simplicity in both ingredients and preparation doesn’t have to mean bland or boring. This savory and satisfying dish will be one you’ll come back to time and time again.

Use a timer when cooking the steak, and then serve it sliced against the grain and on top of a bed of greens. For the most flavor and tenderness, don’t overcook the steak. Medium rare is best.

Belle’s Italian Steak

4 one-inch-thick top sirloin steaks

Extra virgin olive oil

Garlic salt

Black pepper

Belle’s Dressing

2 teaspoons brown mustard

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk dressing and set aside.

Heat griddle, fry pan or grill to high heat. Coat the steaks in oil and cook for four minutes. Sprinkle with the garlic salt and pepper. Turn and cook another four minutes. Remove steaks to a large cutting board and cover with foil. Let them rest for five minutes. Place about a cup of chopped lettuce on each plate and drizzle lightly with dressing. Slice steaks into strips across the grain and place on top of the salad. Drizzle steaks with dressing and serve.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of

twins and a grandmother of two. She is a cookbook author and

novelist. Her website is at