Healthy, happy cows

Hi. I’ll have 8 oz of the grass-fedno-antibioticsnaturalno-artificial-growth-hormonehappy-cow steak. No, not that one, the one behind it and to the right, please. Sound familiar?

It’s sad that the barriers between industrialization and gastronomy have been breached, but it’s the truth. After reading Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilema, I’m scared, or rather disgusted, to buy any other meat. I’ll usually pass on the massaged cattle lavished with all-they-can-drink sake, unless the parents are paying, and simply go for the healthy, happy cow instead. Slightly more expensive than the hormone-injected alternative, but I make it stretch to fit the occasion. If it’s dinner for two, I’ll break open a bottle of wine and enjoy a nice steak perhaps alongside some pureed parsnips or celery root. If it’s for a party, I’ll serve it as an appetizer and share it with my guests.

mise en place

Steak crostini with parsley pesto and goat cheese is an appetizer I came up with while in college. I was invited to a dinner party and was expected to bring something grand – usually what happens when friends find out you like to cook. I had to strike a balance though: too fancy and I would’ve been thought of as showing off; too simple and I would’ve risked disappointment.

season like you mean it

A good quality steak can do wonders if executed properly. Once your meat leaves the butcher, it becomes your responsibility. Season it well, let it sit at room temperature before cooking, don’t over cook it, and allow it to rest before slicing. These four points along with some good judgement can go a long way when preparing meat.

pesto oil to good use

I originally made this dish with regular pesto because that was one of the things I had in my fridge before the party. In retrospect it was passable, but a bit too overpowering for the steak. I tried it again by pulsing parsley into my pesto and it was wonderful. You get a slight herbal note from the basil, but at the same time you’re greeted with a clean, crisp flavor from the parsley.

putting everything together

I used a whole wheat baguette when I made the appetizer last night and thought it was fantastic. This was also not part of the original dish, but I felt that it added an appealing nutty component to the crostini. On a side note, we’ve really come a long way in terms of whole wheat products – they don’t taste like cardboard anymore.

Steak Crostini

The reason why I added two thin slices of steak to each appetizer as opposed to one thicker slice is because it makes the crostini easier to eat. If you’re serving this at a party, you definitely don’t want your guests struggling with a big hunk of meat while they’re mingling and sipping on cocktails.

Steak Crostini

yields approx 18 crostini


  • 1 8 oz steak
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup parsley pesto*
  • roasted peppers, garnish
  • 1 fresh baguette

Putting them all together

  1. Allow steak to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Season with salt & pepper and sear for 3-4 minutes on each side, until medium rare.
  3. Allow meat to rest before slicing.
  4. Slice the baguette on a (~1/4 in slices), brush with some of the basil oil and broil until golden brown.
  5. Once all the components are ready start by smearing a little more pesto on the toasted baguette slices.
  6. Top with a little goat cheese and two thin slices of the steak.
  7. Garnish with diced roasted peppers.

note: To make your own parsley pesto simply replace some of the basil with parsley in your favorite pesto recipe or pulse some parsley into some high quality store bought pesto and call it a day.


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24 thoughts on “Healthy, happy cows

  1. yup if daddy darling is paying then i prefer the hand massaged beef steak too! but i am with you – i buy my meat, poultry etc. from my organic store and make sure that there is nothing added to it except pure happiness! and i after tasting the difference i do not mind paying the extra few bucks. like these bites a lot tony. perfect for my dinner party this weekend! hugs!

  2. Nothin’ wrong with taking one expensive steak and stretching it between two people. We don’t need that much meat anyway!

    Beautiful job on the crostini. I wish I was in your kitchen when you were cooking that.

  3. I’d rather buy happy cows (and happy pigs!) too…although the choices over here are not much and we are most often left to be satisfied with what we find in the supermarket 🙁 This steak crostini is such a awesome and delicious way to stretch a steak! MMM!

  4. Oh, that looks awesome! Very nicely done and I too have a fear of conventional meat. It tastes different and cooks differently. Luckily, we have some great ranches in Colorado. Love the addition of parsley to the pesto. I quite love the clean bite of that herb.

  5. That looks beyond incredible!! The flavors sound so good. I am definitely going to make this. Wonderful photos!! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Soooooooo beautiful Tony! Those pictures are the MOST! And I really love the recipe: the sauce, the meat, the peppers… O my… I would just invent a party so that you could bring these beauties over ;D

    I have tasted once kobe cows meat and there is nothing in the world better than that!!! Have heard about them?

  7. First of all, the steak crostini looks absolutely amazing! The pictures look fabolous!

    It’s funny you talking about the book Omnivore’s Dilema by Michael Pollen. Just this Sunday, I went to the library to see if I could check it out; I’d seen review on it. The library was closed, so I’ll have to make sure to get this Saturday. Like you, I am all for natural, organic meat. Although, I sometimes wonder how truthful the labels are. It sure is scary to eat flesh injected with hormones. Even though it’s more expensive, it’s worth it. For the sake of our health.

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