In this wonderful salad recipe posted on Smitten Kitchen, Deb offers plenty of options. You can make the salad simple or fancy, you can mix up the ingredients based on season, and you can serve it as a first course or a main dish.
There are a lot of components to this salad, and I needed about 10 hands when trying to pull it together one night. In the end, I enjoyed it, but I would still suggest some shortcuts. The best part to me was the warm seasoned mushrooms on fresh greens.
Think of this like a salad bar, and you can take what you like, and leave the rest. We’ll all end up with salads that are creative and suit our personal tastes.
Salad greens were suggested in the original recipe, with the addition of fresh herbs if they were on hand. I used just fresh spinach, which I liked, and this helped to keep things simple.
There are so many different types of mushrooms, and I chose to use cremini for this recipe. In my mind, they’re one step fancier than white mushrooms without being too much more expensive. But plain button mushrooms would really be just fine. The mushrooms are sauteed in olive oil with shallots, and seasoned with thyme, salt, and pepper.
I roasted the hazelnuts, managed not to burn them, and then rubbed the skins off with a towel. Then I proceeded to clean up all the hazelnut skins around my kitchen. Next time, I’ll just use whatever nuts I already have around rather than making a special purchase.
To make this a main dish, I added an egg. This was a good addition, but it did require another pan on the stove top and a watchful eye. It might be easier to add some cooked chicken, or perhaps some beans.
There were several fine cheeses suggested in the original recipe. I used the Parmesan I had on hand, and would do that again. But if I were serving this at a dinner party, I might try something different, because well, I do like to try new cheeses.
The dressing called for shallots soaked in vinegar, then whisked with oil, and then simmered briefly and seasoned to taste. The end result really wasn’t worth all that effort in my opinion. Next time, I’ll whip up a quick vinaigrette with whatever oil and vinegar happens to be my favorite at that time.
So hit the salad bar, and make your own creation!