2.28.2010

Warm Portabello Salad


We all (probably) have a food out there that we really just do not enjoy. For me, I find mushrooms to be just unappetizing in every way. Periodically I try to eat them, but often find they return to my (very short) list of foods I avoid.

How then can you explain the mystery when in my produce box appeared this large almost romantically beautiful portabella mushroom? It sat in my fridge for 3 days. And every time I opened the door it seemed to be calling out to me, begging for my attention. One day, I couldn't take it any longer and I gave in. But, how would I enjoy this mushroom when half way through I knew it would once again feel slimy, taste dirty and remind me of its manure filled origin.

The only solution was to add as many of my favorite foods, while still highlighting this mysterious fungus.

First step: butter. I knew the taste would be a challenge therefore adding a bit of butter might help me to dive deeper into the mushroom. After I sliced the mushroom paper thin, I lightly sautéed them in a drizzle of coconut oil with just a bit of butter. The slices of portabella were ecstatic as they danced with the two fabulous fats, but I couldn't stop adding flavor. Thyme, white wine, and then as if a glorious cherry on top I splashed the mess with balsamic. It was a powerful punch and the sizzle and puff of smoke were almost overwhelming.

As the mushrooms melted with flavor I threw a large pile of one of my favorite, bitter greens, arugula into the middle of a salad plate. Once the portabella was satisfyingly hot I spread it onto the greens and watched them sigh and wilt slightly under the heat. I then shaved long slivers of parmesan cheese and a handful of crunched up fresh walnuts to decorate the top. My artwork was complete, but now for the taste by my worst critic... myself!

I loved it. The mushrooms are vinegary, but almost caramelized, the arugula bites back with bitterness that is sweetly met by the walnuts, which complement the rustic charm of the parmesan. So simple and yet my mysterious mushroom craving was finally met. Now, when I talk about mushrooms, I say I prefer not to eat them, unless of course they are in my Warm Portabella Salad.

Warm Portabella Salad
Serves 4-6

2 large portabellas, rinsed & dried to remove the dirt
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other high heat vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon butter
3 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ cup white wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 cups argula and/or spinach
¼ cup walnuts, broken into pieces
2 ounces parmesan cheese, peeled

To begin, lay the portabella on the rounder side and slice thin. In a medium skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Once it becomes hot and liquid-y add in the butter. As soon as the butter starts to sizzle, spread the mushroom slices in the pan. Allow to sizzle on one side for 4-6 minutes until it is lightly golden. Flip over and repeat on the other side. Continue until all slices are sautéed. When the pan is full of the cooked up mushrooms, add in the leaves of the fresh thyme and the white wine. Allow the wine to absorb for about 1 minute and then toss in the balsamic vinegar. Take care not to inhale the balsamic fumes.
Arrange the arugula and/or spinach on plates or in a salad bowl. Drizzle the balsamic sauce and portabellas on top of the greens, sprinkle with the walnuts and top with the Parmesan strips.

Here are a few other dishes for those who LOVE mushrooms:
Earthy Fig, Chicken & Mushroom Salad - I love the idea of adding Figs!
Bacon, Mushroom, Asparagus Salad -and adding bacon is always a good idea for masking a least favorite food ;)

5 comments:

Your Gross Friends said...

yum! your description is so beautiful! you should be a food critic writer! :) i made up a delicious sandwich today: toasted english muffin topped with apricot jelly, goat cheese, avocado & sea salt. is goat cheese ok to eat when you're not eating dairy? oh well, i ate it anyway!

bellacuisine.blogspot.com said...

That sounds delicious Addie- Yum! Thank you so much for your sweet words also! You are too kind.
Xerxes is very dairy intolerant and he can eat goat milk, cheese, yogurt, etc and he actually loves it all, too which helps.

Zonia Cruz said...

It really brings out the flavor, but for some reason I never make it. I should - it's a perfect holiday treat. Anyway,I like your menu it look so delicious.

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Anne Rizzoli said...

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youssef kabbaj said...

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