Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mushroom and Zucchini Salad

It is spring time in the Midwest , or at least trying , if you stepped out right this minute you would think that we regressed to November weather , rather cold, rather dismal and a tad dreary . By now we have already experienced a couple fo 80F days , we have been teased with good weather , but a gently reminder of who is the boss - mother nature always wins .

Around this time we have become a little tired of comfort food , albeit homemade mac and cheese, soups stews - you get the picture . You look at the calandar , you look outside and realise that regardless of what mother nature throws our way - it time to shed the blankets and think spring like recipes and lighter fare . I took the brave step of planting some lovely spring flowers in planters - to remind us that it is indeed nearly the end of April , and regardless of the weather they are standing tall . Note to all - the picture with the CD/Disc flower is courtesy of my little little gourmet's school art project and in fact she also took the flower pictures .
Let me introduce you to Mushroom and Zucchini salad , for all the people squeemish about eating raw mushroom or zucchini - steel yourselves . You are about to experience a taste sensation , your taste buds are about to go into overdrive. This dish does not require exotic mushrooms, but rather the simple plain jane everyday mushrooms you buy at a food market and or supermarket . The key to the success of this salad is that the mushrooms are very fresh, ie, with a white and dry feel ( no slimey mushrooms allowed) , heavy to hold and a little bit of organic matter will not kill anyone and as tight a cap as possible. I prefer the slimmer sized zucchinis as there is less chance they will have started to produce a lot of seeds inside- again make sure they are very fresh and tender.
To sqeemish foodie readers , PLEASE ...... and I beg you PLEASE , do not rinse the mushrooms under running water , OR soak them in a bowl of water - to clean a fresh mushroom you need nothing more than a just damp paper towel and brush the organic matter off the mushroom.......... that is it ...... many decades on, I am living proof that I have not suffered physical harm from eating fresh mushrooms.

This salad marries well with beef - I would not exclude making it for chicken , pork or fish - but for some reason I always feel it just goes better with good ole beef . For the vegetarians and or raw foodies , this will also taste great on a bed of spring greens . The beauty of this salad is that it does not need last minute preparation and loves to sit around for at least a hour before been eaten . I would not recommend you leave it longer than that or the lemon juice will soften up the salad too much. So if you are invited to a picnic in the park - or a bbq in the country make this salad and allow it mature to perfection as you drive to your destination .

Any week now in different parts of the nation Farmers Markets will begin to surface and I am sure they will have wonderful fresh produce to enjoy - too early for zucchini - but I am sure the mushrooms will be molto fresca!!! .

Enjoy the recipe and I hope you all enjoy this first ode to spring fare .

Mushroom and Zucchini Salad
a GG original recipe

1 packet white button mushrooms or loose white mushrooms
1-2 small zucchinis
3 spring onions
1/2 bunch italian flat leaf parsley
1 large very juicy lemon
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel, and slice into quarter inch slices. Wash and dry your zucchini then slice about the same thickness as the mushrooms- either at an angle or round discs.

The juice of a large lemon or two, if they are not very juicy, some olive oil to balance the tartness of the lemon juice . Sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper - or to taste . Toss the salad to combine at this point , as the marinade starts to soften the vegetables just keep on tossing the salad. About 15 minutes before serving add the finely sliced green onions and chopped parsley. This way the lemon juice does not discolour the spring onions and parsley and the salad looks vibrant and you get to enjoy the freshness of the herbs. At this point check the seasoning of the salad , it should not taste bland or too salty. 

You can alter the ratio of mushroom to zucchini according to your taste - it is a very forgiving salad. You can substitute red onion ( very finely sliced) or fresh chives instead of spring onions , if that is what you have on hand or in your garden. The red onions can be added straight away to the mushrooms and zucchini and they will take on the marinade and impart a lovely flavour.

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