Thursday, June 19, 2008

Portabello Mushroom, Arugula, and Pine Nut Salad

Your probably beginning to notice that I love salads. Salads can contain almost anything you like and do not have to be restricted to just greens and chopped vegetables. Salads can be composed of cooked grains, potatoes, and pastas; they can be hot, warm, or cold; and they can contain a variety of textures, colors, and flavors. This salad in particular combines warm, cooked mushrooms with cool, spicy arugula, sweet tomatoes, and creamy pine nuts. The vinaigrette utilizes the warm juices from the cooked mushrooms to give it a depth of savoriness that you could never find in a store bought dressing.
Please do not be afraid of the ingredients list, I know it seems involved. The salad comes together quite easily and quickly. You can also use grilled mushrooms instead of baked, chopped tomatoes instead of cherry or grape tomatoes, and walnuts instead of pine nuts. Roasted and chopped red peppers would also be delicious here. Ahh, the wheels are turning and the possibilities endless. Most of the prep work can be done a day ahead, just do not combine any of the salad ingredients until last minute to keep them from getting soggy. The mushroom can always be re-warmed right before tossing the salad.

-2 large or 4 small portabello mushrooms, cleaned of any dirt
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
-1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
-salt and black pepper
-2 large handfuls baby arugula
-1 large handful baby spinach
-1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
-1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
-1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
Balsamic Vinaigrette
-1 tablespoon strained mushroom juice
-1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
-1 1/2 teaspoons stone ground mustard
-1 teaspoon agave syrup
-3 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
For the Mushrooms
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the mushrooms in a shallow baking dish, gill side up. Mix together the minced garlic, chopped parsley, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Generously brush this mixture over the mushrooms, using all of it. Lightly season with salt and black pepper. Cover the pan with foil and place in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender. Strain the juice that has collected in the pan and save. Set aside mushrooms and keep warm.

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette
In a bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the reserved strained mushroom juice, the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and agave syrup. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, while constantly whisking, to create an emulsified vinaigrette. Alternately, combined everything but the olive oil in a small glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously. Add in the olive oil and shake vigorously again. This will not create a permanent emulsification, but it is much easier to mix up when needed.

To Compose the Salad
Slice the mushrooms thinly on a bias and place decoratively on a platter. Toss the arugula, spinach, tomatoes, basil, and pine nuts together gently. Lightly season with a little salt and black pepper. Drizzle on as much vinaigrette as you like, without saturating, and gently toss with your hands. Pile the dressed salad on the platter with the mushrooms and serve.

No comments: