Summer Sliders: Steak with Fennel Apple Slaw

Time for another Sandwich Surprise road trip! I’m in Pittsburgh for Brant’s dad Dr. Tim’s 80th birthday bash, and Brant’s brother Tim just got engaged to Jenn, so many congrats and fun sammies for the whole family were in order.

Because it’s Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to do something that could be grilled but that would also be light enough to be delicious all summer long.


I tweaked an early Sandwich Surprise creation that I did before I even launched the blog: a bone-in rib-eye sliced steak with lime-marinated fennel, arugula and gorgonzola. It was good enough, but the arugula needed dressing and the fennel was lonely without pear or apple with it.

Instead of just fennel and lime, I made a summer slaw with fennel, apple, fresh lime and fresh grapefruit juice, fresh mint, olive oil, cider vinegar and a teeny bit of sugar. Click here for the full recipe.


Brant’s mom Joyce and his sister-in-law Rachel tried the slaw right after I made it.

“That’s delicious,” said Joyce. “We should make that again for the party tomorrow.”

“I could eat that whole bowl,” said Rachel.

I then baked the Artisan Rolls using this recipe, courtesy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day.


And I sauteed the sliced steak — which was marinated overnight in Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, lemon juice and olive oil — in a tablespoon of butter, and I dressed the arugula with olive oil, freshly ground pepper and lime and grapefruit juice.


I had a nagging feeling that gorgonzola would overpower the slaw, but I put some slivers in each sandwich anyway.

Here’s Dr. Tim and Rachel:


And Joyce:


And Brant’s brother Ken:


And his sons, Jacob and Benny (the little guy munching on the corn):



The kiddies got modified versions: They both had the bread with butter, and a side of corn, and Jacob also tried a roll with steak and American cheese, but no arugula or slaw. “I like this sandwich,” he said.

As for the adult sammy, Rachel said, “This is great. It’s really refereshing.”

Ken asked for two sliders right off the bat. “The bread is great,” he said. “It’s a good sandwich. I like the pepperiness of the arugula and the fennel. I’m a sauce kinda guy, so the one thing I’d suggest is some kind of spread. Not mayonnaise, but like mayonnaise.”

“Maybe you can make a gorgonzola dressing for the arugula,” said Brant.

“Can you taste the fennel or the mint?” I asked Rachel.

“Not really,” she said.

Yep, I was right about the gorgonzola. So I made another batch without the cheese.

“If I’d known there was going to be a different batch, I wouldn’t have started out with two,” said Ken with a laugh. “I’ll definitely try some of the new version.”

I quartered a sammy for Brant, Rachel, Ken and me.

“This is better,” said Rachel. “You can really taste the fennel and mint and it’s lighter.”

“Yeah, I like it better without the cheese,” said Ken.

“Huh,” Brant said. “I guess I’m the only one who likes it better with the gorgonzola.”

I think it would be yum as a vegetarian sandwich, and then I could see adding really thin slices of gorgonzola instead of the steak. But it’s more refreshing without the sharp blue taste.

Lucky for Tim and Jenn, they came in time to benefit from the tweak in the sammies: I only served them the non-cheese ones.


“There’s a nice crunch with the apple in the slaw and the crisp in the bread,” said Tim. “It’s a perfect in-time-for-summer sandwich.”

“This is so good,” said Jenn, who split a second one with Tim. “The bread was nice and light and airy, the steak wasn’t too heavy or greasy. But the slaw was the absolutely best part.”

“Those sandwiches were a hit,” said Dr. Tim at the end of the evening.

Check out video critiques of the sammies here.

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2 large fennel bulbs, sliced crosswise as thinly as possible, plus a couple of the stems and ferny leaves chopped
1.5 apples, julienned (I used Macintosh)
2 T. fresh mint, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 pink grapefruit
2 T. olive oil
2.5 T. apple cider vinegar
1/4 t. sugar

Whisk the liquids, sugar and mint together, then toss the dressing with the fennel and the apple until fully coated. It’s tasty on its own, or with arugula and steak as a salad, too.

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