Christmas day food – a Middle Eastern mushroom superfood salad!

by Amanda McInerney on 22/12/2011

I’m sure that most of my readers will be putting together the final details for their Christmas dinner and, with the main features almost definitely decided upon (you have decided, haven’t you?), it is time to look at the side dishes.  We’ll be having salads in our house as the weather forecast is for a very hot day here in Adelaide.  Of course I have the good old stand-by dishes that I know everyone loves, but each year I try to come up with something a bit special and a little different.  This year mushrooms will be starring on our Christmas table in a salad that offers a passing nod to the Middle Eastern origins of the Christmas story.

We’re all familiar with mushrooms in their cooked form or as a fabulous addition to cooked dishes, but many of us don’t think to make the most of them in salads and, believe me, they really are an amazingly versatile salad item.  A simple marinade can turn this little flavour powerhouse into the perfect partner for just about any cuisine you can think of, boosting the nutrient level of the dish without adding calories – they’re fat-free, remember?!  Mushrooms are a significant source of that extra taste sensation, umami, which counterbalances saltiness allowing for a reduction in seasoning without a corresponding decrease in piquancy.  Mushroom research has also found that they are one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world – jut another reason to try to get them onto your plate as much as possible.

I’m enormously fond of Middle Eastern and Moroccan food and I will always find a way to use any of the traditional spices from these culinary traditions in our everyday food.  The recipe I’ve come up with started on the pages of one of the very best cookbooks to come out this year, “Plenty”, by Yotam Ottolenghi.  With my customary tweak here and addition there I think I’ve turned it into a suitably festive looking Christmas salad.  The slight hint of sweetness in the marinade makes the mushrooms truly delectable and I’ve used preserved lemon in the dressing for an extra flavour punch, but if you can’t lay your hands on that then I’d suggest using lemon zest.

Marinated Mushroom, Green Bean, Cherry Tomato & Walnut Salad

All the colours of Christmas in a salad.

Ingredients

  • 50 mls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (honey will work nicely, too)
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 500 gms fresh, firm button mushrooms
  • 120 mls Greek yoghurt
  • 35 gms tahini (a sesame seed paste available in most supermarkets)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 good pinch of sea salt
  • 500 gms green bean
  • 300 gms cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 75 gms toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Rind of 1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Wipe mushrooms with a paper towel, then chop into quarters. Set aside in a glass bowl.
  2. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar and maple syrup.
  3. Pour over mushrooms, toss and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
  4. Top and tail beans and blanch in boiling water for a minute or two. Refresh in iced water immediately to arrest the cooking process, pat dry.
  5. Toss marinated mushrooms, beans and tomatoes together in a shallow dish.
  6. Blend yoghurt, tahini and cumin in a dish.
  7. Finely chop the clove of garlic with the pinch of salt until minced together.
  8. Add to yoghurt mix along with preserved lemon.
  9. Blend until mixed, loosening with a little cold water to make it runny enough to drizzle over the vegetables.
  10. Scatter top with the chopped walnuts and serve.

Printable recipe Marinated Mushroom, Green bean, Tomato & Walnut Salad.

This is my last post for 2011 and I’d like to wish my readers peace, joy and fabulous food for the holiday season.  I’ll be taking a little break between Christmas and new year as I prepare for the girls trip of a lifetime I am taking with my daughters.  My eldest and I depart in mid-January for Vancouver to pick up my baby, then we all head on down the west coast of the USA and I’ll be blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting all the way, so watch this space!  In the meantime, look for me here in the first week of January.

This post and recipe has been sponsored by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association and is part of their Summer Mushrooms campaign.  Check out their sites for even more amazing summer mushroom ideas.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy December 22, 2011 at 8:06 am

The salad looks amazing Amanda. Have a great time with the girls, stay safe and I look forward to your postings here in the New Year.

Kate December 22, 2011 at 8:50 am

I thought everything was marginally under control and then I was given a ham !!! Now to hunt down a glaze that does not need yet another trip to the supermarket !!
Have a wonderful South Australian Christmas, Amanda !!

Anna@ The Littlest Anchovy December 22, 2011 at 8:55 am

Have a fantastic trip, I look forward to reading all about it! I really want to make this salad, the flavours are fantastic :)

Grant Nowell December 22, 2011 at 9:17 am

Amanda, that’s for all your wonderful writing, ideas and great pix- you are an all-round ‘foodie star’ Have a safe and happy festive season for you and your family and friends, grant

InTolerant Chef December 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

Just delicious! What a great flavor combination.
I hope you have a lovely Christmas, and indeed have the trip of a life time with your girls. Looking forward to hearing all about it next year:)

Christie @ Fig & Cherry December 22, 2011 at 9:43 am

Great flavours Amanda and so quick to pull together – nice work!

Celia December 22, 2011 at 10:10 am

Merry Christmas, Amanda! Beautiful salad, and you’re so right, all the colours of Christmas on the one plate! Have a great trip, look forward to reading about it! :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella December 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Lucky you having a warm forecast :) I keep hoping for warm weather but today was rainy and you never quite know I suppose!

Mandy - The Complete Cook Book December 23, 2011 at 12:28 am

Now this is an incredible salad – perfect for Christmas!
:-) Mandy

Hotly Spiced December 23, 2011 at 6:00 am

Your salad does look very Christmasy. You are so lucky to be having warm weather. In Sydney it has been freezing for the whole of December with nothing but grey gloomy skies and rain, rain, rain. Can’t remember when we last had sunshine and heat! Have a very Merry and warm Christmas. xx

Amanda December 23, 2011 at 8:39 am

Judy – thanks and I wish you and your family all the best for Xmas and the new year.
Kate – Wow, what a great gift! Happy glazing & happy holidays to you, too.
Ann – I’m looking forward to the trip – excited to be seeing my baby again.
Grant – thanks so much for your kind words and support and merry Xmas to you and yours, too.
Bec – I hope that your health improves quickly and that you have a Xmas filled with lots of assistance from your loved ones.
Christie – thanks – healthy too!
Celia – Merry Xmas to you and your menfolk.
Lorraine – there’s warm weather, then there’s stinking hot weather. I believe it is the latter that is in store for us. :-|
Mandy – thanks & merry Xmas to you.
Charlie – I hope the Sydney weather improves for you on the day – merry Xmas!

Melanie @ Melanie Cooks December 23, 2011 at 10:22 am

That is one super colorful salad! Looks delicious!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella December 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Ah wel, stinking hot weather or warm, Merry Christmas Amanda! :) I’m sure it will be delicious!

Lizzy (Good Things) December 23, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Lovely! I was looking for another salad for my menu. Found it!

tania@mykitchenstories.com.au December 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Merry Christmas, enjoy the salad if thats where you are going. It looks delicious

Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake December 24, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I love mushrooms and that looks splendid! Merry Christmas. :)

Rita December 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm

My hubby works at a mushroom farm and we eat them often so we will be giving this a go.

Cakelaw December 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm

What a terrific looking salad! Hope you had a fabulous Christmas Day. I never knew that the humble mushroom was full of antioxidants – I should get stuck into some more shrooms!

Rosa December 28, 2011 at 8:30 pm

What a fantastic salad! Really toothsome.

Best wishes for 2012!

Cheers,

Rosa

Sue Aveay December 30, 2011 at 11:37 am

Made this salad for bbq dinner yesterday using swiss button mushrooms. Looked and tasted good. Not as strongly flavoured as our palates require, however, even though I had already doubled the amount of cumin and tahini. I will probably add a good pinch of smoked paprika or cayenne to the dressing in future.

Amanda December 30, 2011 at 11:54 am

Sue – ooh, love the idea of the smoked paprika!

Jennifer (Delicieux) December 31, 2011 at 9:32 am

Gorgeous salad Amanda!! I love all of the Christmasy colours. Isn’t it wonderful how deliciously versatile mushrooms are?

Happy New Year Amanda. I hope 2012 is a wonderful year for you and your family.

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