Weekday Vegetarian: Button Mushroom Salad
Photo Credit: Emma Alter
I had a buffet dinner party last week for 30 people and just to make things easier at the last minute, I served everything at room temperature. When I saw this recipe on Food52, it looked like a nice addition to the table, and simple to make. What I hadn't really thought through was how much time it would take to slice all those mushrooms for enough salad for 30. My daughter and I had just left the house to get the glass and plate rentals and buy flowers when my son texted her and said he was at the house to help, what should he start with? I suggested slicing the mushrooms, and when we arrived home 40 minutes or so later he was still hard at it, more or less cheerfully. My, it's grand when your kids are old enough to seriously help out with a party.
While I don't necessarily recommend making this salad for a crowd, it's a fantastic appetizer for a small dinner. It was beautiful, and it really was delicious, and my guests ate every last slice of mushroom. Not only that, but the olive oil that was left in the pan had this beautiful mushroom infused flavour, and I used it in the rice salad that I also made for the party. I have to say that I didn't quite follow the cooking suggestion. Given that I was cooking so many mushrooms, it would have taken an entire bottle of olive oil to cover them, and it just seemed too extravagent. I covered them half way, and then turned them over and continued cooking them until they were done and it worked perfectly. If you leave off the cheese, this is a vegan recipe.
Button Mushroom Salad
12 large button mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and stems trimmed
3 sprigs thyme
1 large garlic clove, lightly smashed
Olive oil, for cooking and dressing the mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoon finely diced tomato
1 1/2 tablespoon slivered almonds, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon grated pecorino Romano cheese
Thin slices of toasted baguette, for serving
1. Arrange the mushrooms stem-side-down in a single layer in a saucepan. They should fit snugly. Use more than one pan if needed. Tuck the thyme and garlic between the mushrooms. Season with salt. Add enough olive oil to barely cover the mushrooms. Set the pan over medium heat and cook until bubbles rise to the surface, then reduce the heat to low and poach, uncovered, until tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
2. Use a slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms to a cutting board. Let them cool. Reserve the oil. If there's mushroom liquid at the bottom of the pan, pour the oil into a container and save the mushroom liquid to dress the mushrooms.
3. Very thinly slice the mushrooms (think carpaccio). On each of 4 salad plates, arrange the slices in overlapping rows to form a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Squeeze the lemon over the mushrooms, making sure to hit all of them - be generous! Season with salt if needed. Sprinkle the mushrooms with tomato and almonds. Dress with the mushroom liquid if there is any, or your best olive oil. Sprinkle with the cheese.