Tenderloin Steak with a Porcini Red Wine Sauce and Spinach Salad (LC)

Recipe: Tenderloin Steak with a Porcini Red Wine Sauce and Spinach Salad (LC)

Remarks: March is one of those months. One day to the next, you never know -- Is it a heavy coat day or will a blazer do? Is it boots or shoes? Rain or shine? You can never predict. It's even less reliable than Jimmy the Groundhog or his famous Eastern counterpart Punxatawny Phil!

The weather affects not only what you wear, it affects what you want to eat too. Summer is a natural time to eat lighter because of the warm temperatures. We gravitate to grilled food in the summer with cold salads and room-temperature side dishes. That's what our bodies are telling us we need. The opposite holds true for winter when we crave heavier, straight-from-the-oven casseroles and other heartier food choices.

So March can be one of those in-between months where our cravings waffle back and forth just like the weather. What to do with such a conundrum? Do we have to tune into the Weather Channel before we plan a meal? Well, that is one option, but you could also plan some meals that incorporate both sets of cravings so we satisfy them somewhere in the middle, no matter what the weather.

This recipe is that kind of dish. We combine the warm with the lighter and cooler -- all on one plate. Extra bonuses include: No side dishes necessary. This is a one-project, one-plate meal. It's semi-dietetic (use low-fat butter substitute and half and half), semi-healthy, and is "low-carb friendly." Fancy enough for a dinner party and simple enough for a Tuesday night after work.

(LC) = Low-Carb Friendly

Servings: Serves 6

1-1/2 cups dried porcini mushrooms
1-1/2 cups diced shallots
3 Tbl virgin olive oil (divided)
2 Tbl roasted garlic (from the jar is fine)
2 lb sliced button mushrooms
1 cup dry red wine
5 Tbl butter (divided)
2 cups whipping cream
6 beef tenderloin steaks (8 oz each)
2 bags of baby spinach
36 grape tomatoes (1 pkg)
Onion rings as garnish (if desired) (See preparation instructions below)

Instructions: Add the porcini mushrooms to a bowl with 2 cups of very hot water. You need to soften them up. You can do this earlier in the day and cover, or do it at least 30 minutes before you cook dinner.

Add shallots to 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil and heat on medium high. Cook shallots until softened. Add garlic and stir just to combine. Add button mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until they brown on the edges and you cook off most of the liquid. Add the porcini mushrooms with only 1/3 cup of the liquid and stir until heated (about 4 minutes). Add red wine and reduce until half of the wine has cooked away. Add 3 tablespoons butter; melt and then add whipping cream. Keep the heat on the stove medium high to bring the cream to a slow boil. Stir this mixture until it starts to thicken. This will take a few minutes. Turn sauce to low temperature so you can concentrate on the steak now.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a sauté pan on medium high. The reason for the butter-olive oil combination is because butter burns too easily alone. The olive oil allows you to heat the pan more. When butter is melted, add your steaks. (You can season them ahead of time with salt, pepper, or even Cajun spices. That's up to your taste.) Cook until meat is done to your liking. A good rule of thumb for most burners is 5 minutes per inch thickness of meat for medium rare.

While steak is cooking, toss spinach in a bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil and grate with a little ground sea salt. (Regular salt will do in a pinch.) Spread the salad in a ring around the outside of the dinner plates.

When the steak is done, let it sit off the flame for a minute to soak the juices back into the meat; then put it in the center of the plate. Pour mushroom sauce over and around the steak. The juices will run under the spinach salad but keep the salad as clean as you can to bring out the green color. Scatter grape tomatoes around the salad for more color. The onion rings are completely optional. You can make your own, but if you don't have time, you can buy prepared onion rings and bake them in your oven or you can even heat some of the little onion rings you can buy in a can in the oven and sprinkle those on the steak. It just gives the dish a little more of a steakhouse feel.

Serving Suggestions: