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.
- 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
- Wipe mushrooms with a paper towel, then chop into quarters. Set aside in a glass bowl.
- Whisk together oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar and maple syrup.
- Pour over mushrooms, toss and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
- 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.
- Toss marinated mushrooms, beans and tomatoes together in a shallow dish.
- Blend yoghurt, tahini and cumin in a dish.
- Finely chop the clove of garlic with the pinch of salt until minced together.
- Add to yoghurt mix along with preserved lemon.
- Blend until mixed, loosening with a little cold water to make it runny enough to drizzle over the vegetables.
- 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.