This week has been tough. As it is my first time seeing cancer’s ruthless killer instinct firsthand, spending time with my father-in-law is becoming more and more heart-wrenching. Just when we rejoice in his positive response to treatment (meaning no major side effects nor rampant tumor growth), the heartless disease tightens its grip on him once more. Ever since he was weaned off the steroid, his appetite is back to being nonexistent, thus turning meal/snack times into an ordeal. He claims that he is a “good” patient, but none of us are amused. It takes an army coercing him for at least an hour to sip on some Ensure. Good patient…Ha! As each bite counts, we gladly purchase caloric-dense fast foods. For Father’s Day, we got Taco Bell takeout and rejoiced when he finished one TINY burrito.
As soon as the Hungryman and I returned home, I headed to the store to stock up on fresh veggies and the essential ingredients to make Warm Mushroom Salad. I believe it was my need to comfort my heavy spirit that led me to choose this one in particular. The word “warm” sounded promising.
The recipe comes from a recently purchased cookbook called “Salad For Dinner.” I’ve flipped through all the pages, and I can tell it’s going to become one of my most prized cookbooks. The recipes are informative and inspirational, while all the talk of growing and foraging for greens has me wanting to brave my fear of menacing critters and start my own garden. As found throughout the book, various salad greens mixed in with colorful ingredients and unique dressings are sure to save us from salad burn out. Salad for dinner? Sounds perfect.
So let’s talk about this salad. Obviously, the mushrooms are the star. You must not waste a penny on those commonly found button mushrooms. Instead splurge a lil’ and get you some fungi delicacy! During our weekly trip to the Farmers Market, the Hungryman and I always pass by the Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms stand, that’s either swarming with loyal customers or nearly sold out. This time, I arrived extra early (leaving the Hungryman in bed) and succeeded in getting a brown-bagged assortment of oysters and shitakes. In Korean cuisine, shitakes are an extremely common ingredient. However, they are mostly dried and rehydrated. As for the oysters, I marveled at and, at the same time, felt queasy due to their giant white gills.
Mushrooms are loaded with essential nutrients. They contain vitamin D (only source of it in the produce aisle), vitamin B (riboflavin, niacin), potassium, and antioxidants, just to highlight a few.
I chose a lettuce mix bc..well, just look at them!
I have the desire to start my own garden. I do. But honestly, horrific visions of our backyard resembling scenes from “A Bug’s Life,” are what hold me back. I knew I shouldn’t have watched that movie even though it’s one of Hungryman’s favorite Disney movie. Argh…Cartoon or not, insects make me itchy beyond comfort. However, I’m working on getting over this fear one bug at a time. In the meanwhile, I’m starting with indoor herbs. Currently, I have basil and lemon balm, which is what you see here. I fell in love with this one the moment I smelled it. So bright and refreshing! As a member of the mint family, it is known as the calming herb. While it is widely used for medicinal purposes, it is sure to brighten up and enhance the flavor of any dish. I really hope this one won’t commit suicide on me. I’m growing quite fond of it.
I admit. I made more of an effort with my mise en place bc it looks impressive in pictures. However, I’m quickly learning that it truly is the key to success esp. when it comes to salad making. I just have to run the dishwasher a bit more frequently ;).
Sauté mushrooms until tender before adding minced garlic and shallots. Then add white wine, whipping cream, and season to taste. As a lover of red wine, I avoid recipes that require white wine. Oftentimes, buying a whole bottle just to use 1/4-1/2 cup doesn’t make the cut in my weekly grocery budget. Then I discovered these tiny bottles that come in a package of 4. Clever. Making the goat cheese toasts is simple. Slice, bake, spread, then bake a lil’ longer. They are the perfect accompaniment to the salad.
The Hungryman was appalled by the lack of meat at the dinner table. Before he could complain any further, I calmly told him that the mushrooms were getting cold. He loved that. The mushrooms were special, indeed. Their mild and slightly sweet flavor complemented the creamy sauce and the tangy salad perfectly. Texturally, the chewy mushrooms paired well with the crispy greens. I unfortunately overbaked the slices of toast so they were a bit crunchier than I prefer, but the herbed goat cheese more than made up for the mishap. In the end, the Hungryman warmed up to the dish and gladly finished his plate. I knew he would come around ;).
- 3½ Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound mushrooms, thickly sliced (I used oyster and shitake)
- 2 Tablespoon minced shallot
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs (I used lemon balm)
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup plus 1½ Tablespoon whipping cream, divided
- 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher slat
- Mixed greens of choice (I used lettuce mix)
- French bread baguette, sliced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, room temperature (I used garlic and herb flavor)
- Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until they become tender, about 6-8 min. Add shallots, garlic, and herb and continue to sauté until tender, about 5 min. Pour wine over the mushrooms and sauté until wine evaporates, about 3-5 min. Add ¼ cup cream to the mushrooms, sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and sauté until mushrooms are tender and lightly coated, about 4-6 min. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, whisk 1½ tablespoons olive oil and cream in a large bowl. Whisk in the white wine vinegar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Add salad greens and toss until well-coated. Plate salad greens and top with warm mushrooms.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and bake until lightly toasted, 6-8 min. Let it cool slightly before spreading with generous amount of goat cheese. Bake until cheese is hot, about 6 minutes.
What’s the most exotic mushroom you’ve eaten or had the pleasure of cooking with?