Warm Mushroom Salad

Let’s say–hypothetically–that you ate too much over the Thanksgiving holiday. Perhaps you went a little nuts and did something that I’m pretty sure it says somewhere in Leviticus that you’re not supposed to do: you wrapped your poor ol’ turkey in bacon. As if the candied sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and 17 glasses of wine weren’t enough, you had to go and add pork fat. 

And let’s just say–hypothetically again of course–that when you returned to the office after your gluttonous Thanksgiving holiday (during which you unrepentingly consumed one whole bacon-wrapped turkey), you discovered said office to be completely devoid of office furniture, computers, telephones, or even filing cabinets.

 

(Don’t worry folks, it’s being renovated)

Assuming all of these things happened–and I’m not saying they did or they didn’t–you might want to have something light and easy-to-cook tonight for dinner. My vote is for a warm mushroom salad, courtesy of one Ina Garten, who has never to my knowledge ever put out a bad recipe. If you made an Ina recipe and it turned out bad, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it was probably your fault.

The great thing about this recipe is, though it is a salad, it’s great for wintertime. The mushrooms and the mushroom “broth” with sherry or red wine vinegar make this salad seem like anything but. Plus, the proscuitto makes that person in your family who *must* have meat at every meal (you know who you are) happy and delighted that when you said you were going to make a salad for dinner (audible groan) they were pleasantly surprised when you put this on the table!  

Though Ina calls for sundried tomatoes in this recipe (and I usually do use them when I make it), I could not find them anywhere in my newly-reorganized Publix grocery store (why must everything change when you go on Thanksgiving holiday!?). I thought the peppers were excellent and fully interchangeable with the tomatoes. The only difference is that I cooked them with the mushrooms to heat them up a bit.

 Also, Ina tells you to “cover each portion” of the arugula with proscuitto slices. Well, I just don’t feel like sitting down to a salad and having to cut my way through it…so I shred the meat with my fingers first. Lazy? No, I prefer industrious. There you have it: the answer to a holiday meal gone over the top and an unusable office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warm Mushroom Salad (adapted from Ina Garten’s Warm Mushroom Salad from Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home)

Serves 2 dinner-sized portions

1 pound cremini mushrooms (or whatever mushrooms you have–I had baby portabellas)

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

4 Tablespoons good olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon kosher salt (you may want to reduce this a little because the proscuitto is very salty)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 bunches of fresh arugula, washed and spun dry (yay, you get to use your salad spinner! Awesome!!)

6 slices good Italian proscuitto

2 Tablespoons red or sherry wine vinegar

chunk of parmesean cheese

4 roasted red peppers, roughly chopped

Clean the mushrooms by brushing tops with a clean sponge. Remove and discard the stems and slice the caps 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

In a large saute pan, heat the butter and 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil until bubbly. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper to the pan, and saute for 3 minutes over medium heat, tossing frequently. Reduce the heat to low and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes, until cooked through. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the peppers.

Meanwhile, arrange the arugula on 2 plates and cover each with proscuitto (shred with fingers into bite-sized pieces). When the mushrooms and peppers are cooked, add the sherry/red wine vinegar and the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to the hot pan. Spoon the mushrooms and sauce on top of the proscuitto. With a vegetable peeler, make large shavings of Parmesean cheese and place on top of the hot mushrooms.  

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew

Beef and Root Vegetables Stew (Finished)Way at the top of the list of beef stew sins are: a) taking your stew out of the oven too early thereby ending up with beef that is tough and hard to chew, and b) making a broth that is too watery. This stew takes those two sins and whips them in the arse.

How does it do that? Well, first of all, it has a 1/2 bottle of wine in it. The wine gives the broth a wonderfully deep, rich taste and–though I haven’t conducted any sceintific experiments–I think the acidity of the wine helps to break down the beef fibers to make it oh-so-tender.

 

Beef and Root Vegetables Stew

 

 

I adapted this recipe from Jamie Oliver, who says that he tried to make this stew like any other beef stew or boeuf bourguignon recipe, where you first brown the meat, then add the vegetables. But, he said this particular stew came out better without browning the meat at all and just adding the vegetables at the same time. That’s great news for us, because it’s that much easier to make!

 

 

 

 

Beef and Root Vegetables Stew 2

While Jamie’s recipe called for parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes, I used what I had from the farm–turnips instead of parsnips–and I nixed the Jerusalem artichokes because they are just so freakin’ expensive. One note: I do not peel my root vegetables. I just don’t think it’s necessary when you’re using organically-grown veggies. Besides, how many people have eaten potato skins before? The skin of the carrot or the turnip is the same thing, right? Just wash ’em up real good! Besides, I don’t think a little dirt will hurt you. It’s called terroir–when the food takes on the flavor of the place it was grown. Yeah, this generally refers to wine…but I think it could be true with carrots too.

 

 

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew (wine)

Remember, you’re going to be adding a 1/2 bottle of wine to this. I admit, it is hard for me to pour a 1/2 bottle of wine into the pot, thinking about putting it to better use (by actually drinking it), but it is well worth it. I usually choose a wine that I would normally drink anyway (do NOT buy a bottle that you wouldn’t normally drink…it will taste in the stew like it tastes in the glass, so you’ll want to buy something you like. And don’t–under any circumstances–buy cooking wine. It will taste terrible). I really like this line of wines called “Just.” You can find them at Whole Foods and they are under $10.00. They are great for cooking with or for your regular weekday wine intake, when you don’t need anything too fancy, but you also don’t want to drink something icky. Half goes in the stew, and half goes in my tummy while I cook! It’s already a party and I haven’t even eaten anything yet!

 

 

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew (finished on stove)

This stew cooks for a while in the oven (3-4 hours). Don’t take it out a moment sooner than that! You want the beef to be nice and tender and to fall apart under your fork. By all means, test it first. I will tell you, the smell of this stew in your kitchen (and throughout your house) is a wonderful, comforting, warm smell, and it is totally worth the wait.

When you take the stew out of the oven, just before serving, add the garlic/rosemary/lemon mixture. It is so fragrant and adds a phenomenal touch to the stew. Don’t skip it! By the way, I made some cornbread to go with this, and it made for great dipping.

As you can see by the picture below, my dog Jack was all-too-happy with this recipe. I shared a little with him, but saved most of it for leftovers. It made for a great weeknight dinner the second time around.

 

 

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew (adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jool’s Favourite Beef Stew)Beef and Root Vegetable Stew (Jack Sniffing)

olive oil

Tablespoon of butter

1 onion, peeled and chopped

a handful of fresh sage leaves

¾lb beef stew meat

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

flour, to dust

4 small turnips, quartered*

4 carrots, halved

½ a butternut squash, halved, deseeded and roughly diced

1lb small potatoes (I used Yukon Golds)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ a bottle of red wine

½ pint beef stock

zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

a handful of rosemary, leaves picked

1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Put a Tablespoon of oil and a Tablespoon of butter into an oven-safe dutch oven.

Add the onion and all the sage leaves and fry for 3 or 4 minutes.

Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with all the vegetables, the tomato purée, wine and stock, and gently stir together.

Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and just a little salt. Bring to a boil, place a lid on top, then cook in the preheated oven until the meat is tender. Sometimes this takes 3 hours, sometimes 4 – it depends on what cut of meat you’re using and how fresh it is. The only way to test is to mash up a piece of meat and if it falls apart easily it’s ready. Once it’s cooked, you can turn the oven down to about 225°F and just hold it there until you’re ready to eat.

Mix the lemon zest, chopped rosemary and garlic together and sprinkle over the stew before eating. Just the smallest amount will make a world of difference.

 
*I do not peel my root vegetables. I use organic vegetables, so there are no pesticides to worry about. I make sure I clean the dirt off as well as I can. Other than that, a little clean dirt will never hurt anyone. I would argue it adds a little local flavor (er, maybe).