This warm mushroom salad with potato and wilted greens is one of my favorite fall salads. Crispy, pan-seared mushrooms are the star, tossed with roasted potatoes and fall greens for a hearty and satisfying meal.
Years ago I made a go at being a vegetarian. It was…interesting, to say the least. To be honest, I wasn’t a very good one and most of my meals consisted of mac and cheese and boring, boring salads with romaine and cucumbers. Oh, and hummus – but with pita, not veggies. I did not taste the rainbow. I, friends, was a craptastic vegetarian. Thankfully I came to my senses, stuffed my face with a rare steak and never looked back.
Fast-forward nearly 8 years later and I’ve learned a lot about cooking, nutrition, balanced meals, and seasonal eating. I’d be a much better vegetarian today than I was a decade ago. While I’m unlikely to explore the expulsion of meat again anytime soon, it’s definitely more of a garnish and less of a star as I’ve learned to revel in the deliciousness of veggies. It helps that I often bathe them in butter and salt, but I digress, as per usual.
Back in my vegetarian-wannabe days, I often read that mushrooms were an acceptable substitute for meat, and I laughed and laughed. Fungi for flesh? Um, no. But like so many things, I was wrong, wrong, wrong and have come to develop a deep affection for ‘shrooms of all shapes, sizes and tastes. When I noticed that seasonal wild mushrooms were in stock at the local market, I snatched up a bagful and started imagining all of the ways I could get them into my gullet, and this warm mushroom salad with potatoes and wilted greens is the result.
This warm mushroom salad is made with savory sautéed mushrooms, roasted potatoes, crispy pancetta, radicchio, arugula and spinach. The heat from the warm veggies slightly wilts the greens. It’s hearty enough for a lunch entree (and yes, the ‘shrooms are a fab meat substitute), but can also be paired with a few ounces of seared steak for a fuller dinner.
Warm Mushroom Salad Recipe Notes: How to Properly Sautee Mushrooms
Before you dive into the recipe for this warm mushroom salad, let’s talk about the art of the properly sautéed mushroom for just a moment.
Flaccid, unseasoned mushrooms will soon be a thing of your kitchen past. Sautéed mushrooms can be palette-changing, provided that you prepare them properly. ‘Shrooms are a fussy little bunch and you will mortally offend their delicate sensibilities with an improper sauté session. Therefore, there are a few rules to follow to become a sautéed mushroom making machine:
- Moisture is thine enemy. Nobody likes a soggy ‘shroom. Rinse your mushrooms gently in cold water and then thoroughly dry them with paper or cloth towels. Water may be the key to life, but it will kill your browned mushroom dreams. Dry ’em well.
- Heat is your friend. You want to use a good, heavy-bottomed pan to retain as much heat as possible. I prefer cast iron, but you do you. Just do it with a heavy pan over high heat.
- Fat is your friend. Select a fat with a high smoke point, like duck or bacon, for best results. Do not use extra virgin olive oil, because it will burn and that will be gross. My good friend butter is also an acceptable fat, but you’re gonna have to watch the heat closely to make sure it doesn’t burn. Vegetarians and vegans can try avocado or coconut oil. Plan for about a tablespoon of fat, using a little at a time, per pound of mushrooms.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. Mushrooms have a high moisture content, and they will release their liquid as they cook. An overcrowded pan will result in your mushrooms steaming in their own liquid, instead of getting their proper sauté on. Again, nobody likes a soggy ‘shroom. Give your mushrooms their space and they will thank you.
- Don’t play with your food. Like waking a sleep child, constantly tossing your mushrooms is no bueno. Both actions result in tears and a rubbery mess. Toss your fungi into the hot fat in the hot pan, and then wait. Gently flip them once they’ve browned and caramelized, and then push them aside and add your next batch.
- Season sensibly. There’s a lot of debate about when and how to season sautéed mushrooms, so I’ll just tell you how I do it, and you can do as I say, m’kay? Mushrooms are excellent flavor conductors, and seasoning is your chance to really make them shine. My preference is to deglaze after browning, and then add salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Salting prior to browning will draw out more moisture than necessary, making them tougher than they ought to be.
Congratulations, you are now an ace mushroom cooker. If you end up making this warm mushroom salad, I’d love to know your thoughts and see your fab pics! Tag your photo on IG with #oursaltykitchen so that I can drool over your mushroom mastery.
Warm Mushroom Salad with Potatoes and Wilted GreensPrint Recipe Rate This Recipe
- 1 tbsp avocado or olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 12 oz. potatoes
- 2 oz. pancetta diced into 1/2" pieces
- 1 lb wild mushrooms thickly sliced or chopped (I used equal ounces of shiitake, bluefoot, and crimini)
- 1 tbsp bacon fat
- 1/4 c dry red wine
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 head radicchio halved and sliced
- 2 c baby arugula
- 2 c baby spinach
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. Prepare your mushrooms and veggies. Gently rinse the mushrooms in cold water, then thoroughly dry them on paper towels or with a cloth. Brush off any stubborn patches of dirt, then cut into thick slices or quarters. Chop the radicchio and set aside.
- Toss the potatoes in the oil and sea salt. Spread onto the prepared baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- While the potatoes are cooking, sauté the pancetta and mushrooms. Heat a large, heavy skillet (I prefer cast iron) over medium high heat. Once hot, add the pancetta and cook until brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add about a tsp of fat to the skillet and allow it to heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add a handful of mushrooms to the pan; you should hear the mushrooms sizzle when they hit the hot fat. If they are not sizzling, the pan or the fat isn't hot enough. Sautee on one side until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are brown and crispy. Flip and repeat. Push the current batch of mushrooms to the side of pan, add another teaspoon of fat, wait a moment, then add another handful of mushrooms. Repeat until all mushrooms are browned and crispy, about 30 minutes total.
- Add the pancetta back into the pan. Give the mushrooms and pancetta a gentle stir to incorporate, then deglaze the pan with the red wine. Cook, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until all of the liquid is evaporated. Turn off the heat, then season with sea salt, cracked pepper, and parsley. Gently stir to incorporate.
- In a salad bowl, toss the radicchio, arugula and spinach with the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Add the potatoes and mushrooms and give the entire salad a mild toss. Allow to sit for a few moments until the greens are slightly wilted, then serve.
Make it Whole30: sub chicken stock for red wine.