My mother has always had very definite opinions about food, particularly combinations of food. I’ll be explaining what I prepared for dinner that night and she’ll quickly chime in, sometimes even before I am finished, to say she is not particularly fond of that combination. It’s ok to have an opinion, but what is more fascinating to me is that she has already thought about the combination and made a conscious decision about it. My mother not only knows what she likes, but even more resolutely knows what she doesn’t like, and of course why. How many of us have actually given thought to this?
It’s interesting how much of our food preferences are shaped by what’s familiar. Growing up, my mom worked long hours, so I was in charge of starting dinner. She always insisted I take out the salad greens from the fridge as soon as I came home from school because she didn’t like salads in the wintertime particularly cold ones. By the time she came home, the greens were at room temperature and more appetizing for the cold winter night. Well, this stuck. Not because I am a creature of habit, but because what she was saying is so true.
In the wintertime, we love to eat hot comfort food. We turn to dishes that warm our bellies, melt our hearts, and insulate us from the cold. We look forward to dishes like roasted root vegetables, steaming soups and stews and baked casseroles like macaroni and cheese. There are reasons for this; Canadian winters can be mighty cold!
How many of us crave a nice green salad in the middle of January? Definitely not me (besides salad greens don’t quite taste the same out of season). Nonetheless, I do try my best to get the raw greens in and this is one of the best ways I have found to enjoy them in the wintertime.
Be sure to use greens at room temperature. It really is part of the experience. The “fresh” mixed greens, with pieces of red radicchio, are enveloped by the sweet balsamic vinegar; they combine with the warm roasted caramelized mushrooms, which exalt with that little bit of lemon juice and together with the creamy, salty, yet sharp Parmesan (yes, a good quality Parmesan actually tastes creamy and sweet for that matter) provide what I would call the ultimate food experience.
With my first bite, I found myself doing my little dance in my chair and my husband was just watching me quite amused. “Yes”, he confirmed smiling, “it is quite delicious”. I had songs in my head! It was one of those dishes that I wanted to be bottomless. Why didn’t I make enough for four? It was so good, I broke my rule and put it on my weekly menu plan back-to-back. Just couldn’t get this dish out of my head.
I have served this salad without the Parmesan. It goes very well with strips of crispy smoked tofu.
This is my idea of the perfect winter salad. The roasted mushrooms take approximately 45 minutes to roast, but it is even faster on the barbecue. I roast mine the night before to make this a quick weeknight meal.
|Mushrooms, oyster||1 lb|
|Mushrooms, King, sliced lengthwise into 4-5 strips||1 lb|
|Olive oil||1/4 – 1/3 cup|
|Garlic, cloves, whole||2|
|Thyme, fresh||1 tsp|
|Parsley, fresh, chopped|
|Lemon juice, freshly squeezed||2 squeezes|
|Balsamic Vinaigrette:||you’ll have vinaigrette left over|
|Olive oil||5 tbsp|
|Balsamic vinegar||2 tbsp|
|Garlic clove, crushed||1|
|Basil, dried||1/2 tbsp (or 4-5 fresh basil leaves, chopped and added to the salad greens)|
|Black pepper||1/4 tsp|
|Mustard, Dijon||1/2 tsp|
|Salad greens||6-7 oz|
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a medium roasting pan, combine mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add parsley and thyme and toss. Continue to roast for another 15 minutes or so (until the mushrooms are caramelized).
- Remove from the oven and lightly squeeze some lemon juice on the mushrooms. Lightly toss.
- Meanwhile, to make the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk well. Set aside.
- To assemble, toss salad greens with vinaigrette. I use the salad spoon and drizzle in one full spoonful for the amount of salad recommended. Adjust to taste. Remember, salad greens should just be kissed with dressing, not weighed down. If you happen to add too much, just add a few more salad green to balance it out.
- Place half the greens on each of two plates. Top each plate with half the roasted mushrooms. Follow with Parmesan shavings.