Steak and Mushrooms with Baby Arugula

Tender sauteed steak "rags" and mushrooms atop arugula dressed with a pan sauce.
Straccetti di manzo, tender sauteed steak “rags” and mushrooms atop baby arugula.

You may see a theme in my upcoming recipes. I’m celebrating the food of Rome, the first stop on my upcoming trip to Italia.

A popular dish found in restaurants all over Rome, straccetti di manzo is a quick sauté of thinly sliced steak and mushrooms served over a bed of arugula.

The dish is called “stracetti” or “little rags” because the thinly sliced lean filet or steak is torn into small bite-sized pieces that resemble rags.

If you enjoy a salad topped by grilled steak, try this quick dish to satisfy your desires. It’s full of flavor and will be on your table in about 30 minutes. Just right for lunch or a light dinner all on one plate.

The boys at Little City suggested beef filet or a strip steak for this dish. I wanted buttery beef so I picked the filet and it works beautifully. The big heap of baby arugula at Union Produce caught my eye. It was a perfect base for the dish.

The tender filet rags and nutty mushrooms are bathed in the buttery pan sauce with sweet balsamic notes. The arugula adds a crunchy, peppery finish to each bite. Simple, healthy and delicious.

Buon appetito!

Sauteed Beef and Mushrooms with Arugula
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A quick and delicious dish of tender steak sliced the size of "little rags" sauteed with mushrooms and served over a bed of baby arugula.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 pound thinly sliced filet or steak
  • 6 ounces crimini mushrooms
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups arugula
  1. Slice the filet or steak with the grain into very thin slices (or ask you butcher to do it.)
  2. Cut or tear apart the slices with a fork into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Put the sliced beef into a bowl and add 4 tablespoons EVOO and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. Mix well and set the beef aside for about 15 minutes.
  5. Cut the mushrooms into small wedges.
  6. Put 2 tablespoons of EVOO into a large saute pan and heat it over medium-high.
  7. When the oil is hot add the sliced beef to the pan. Reserve the EVOO in the bowl.
  8. Saute the sliced beef to your desired doneness. (I like to get some color on one side.)
  9. Transfer the beef to a dish and set aside.
  10. Add the reserved EVOO from the dish the beef was in to the pan. (You need about 2 tablespoons of oil so add more if necessary.)
  11. When the oil is hot add the mushrooms and cook to evaporate their moisture and to pick up a golden brown color, about 3 minutes.
  12. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the beef.
  13. Add the butter and flour to the hot pan. Whisk the butter and flour briskly so the flour doesn't clump.
  14. Add the white wine and stir frequently. Cook until the sauce thickens and reduces in volume, about 2 minutes.
  15. Add the beef and mushrooms to the sauce and mix well. Cook briefly to heat the beef and mushrooms and coat them well with the pan sauce.
  16. Off the heat, stir in the balsamic vinegar.
  17. Put a bed of arugula on a serving platter or individual plates, top with the the beef and mushrooms and their juices.
  18. Sprinkle a few leaves of arugula on top and serve immediately.


Grilled Steak with Herb Sauce (Bistecca con salsa delle erbe)

Grilled ribeye steak with an herb and EVOO sauce
Grilled ribeye steak with an herb and EVOO sauce

Want a fast weekday evening meal? You can have this flavorful steak on your table in less than 15 minutes.

Ribeye, strip or porterhouse steaks work well. Cook the steaks on an outdoor grill or in a grill pan on top of the stove.

I was in a hurry and only had to feed myself, so I had my butcher cut ribeye steaks about an inch thick. They grill to medium-rare in just 4 minutes.

For a fancier and more classic version of this traditional dish, use a thicker steak. A 24-ounce, 3-inch thick steak will take 8-10 minutes for medium rare and serves 2-4 people. Cut the steak across the grain and serve the slices on a platter topped with salsa.

Make the herb sauce in a food processor in minutes. Start with a base of fresh basil, Italian flat parsley and EVOO. I had rosemary and oregano in the fridge so I added a little of both to my salsa. Marjoram, tarragon or fresh thyme work well too. Salsa delle erbe goes well with other grilled meats, fish and chicken too.

Serve the steak and herb sauce with baby spinach sauteed with olive oil and garlic or a green salad dressed with red wine vinegar, EVOO and sea salt and you’ve got dinner.

Buon appetito!

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  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 rib-eye, strip, or porterhouse steak, sliced about an inch thick per person
  1. Put the herbs, garlic and ¾ cup EVOO in the food processor and pulse a few times until the herbs and garlic are finely minced, almost a paste consistency.
  2. Season herb sauce with salt and pepper, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld.
  3. Put steak on a plate, season both sides generously with salt and pepper and rub with the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO.
  4. Heat a gas grill to medium-high or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat on top of the stove.
  5. Cook the 1-inch steak for about 3 minutes on the first side and cook on the other side for about 1 minute for medium-rare. Adjust the cooking time if your want a more rare or more done steak or your using a thicker steak.
  6. Place the steak with the browned first side you grilled up and let rest for 5 minutes. Spoon the herb sauce over the steak. Serve immediately.


Bistecca alla Pizzaiola (Steak in a Spicy Tomato Sauce)

A classic from Naples – it’s fast, spicy, delicious, and is named after the pizza-maker since the sauce is one that is always at hand in a pizzeria.

Traditionally, a thick slice of chuck or round is used. You can use these cuts if you have time to braise the meat for 2-3 hours to tenderize these tougher cuts. Usually I’m too hungry to wait that long so I make it with thinly-sliced ribeye steaks. You can make this dish in about 45 minutes.

I felt generous when making the dish so I added two contorni (side dishes) to accompany the steak: sauteed escarole and roasted potatoes.

Don’t miss this episode if you want to see my version of Italian ketchup.