Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mushroom, Basil & Lemon Salad

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Who doesn't love a picnic?  Ok, so maybe just as there are a few Scrooges out there who don't love Christmas, I'm sure there are also a few ne'er sayers when it comes to picnicing, but for the most part a good picnic seems to be universally popular.  Whether you're six or sixty, whether you'd rather hike for several hours to some remote destination or simply throw a rug on the living room floor, there's something about the informality of a picnic which transports most of us to that "happy place".  Of course, like all good things, timing is everything.  Unless you're planning your feast on a rug in front of a blazing fire, winter time when the wind is howling and the snow is six inches deep is probably not ideal.  Likewise, I personally think that summer is not great for a picnic either - it can generally be too hot, all the ideal spots are usually completely overcrowded, and here in New Zealand at least you will spend the whole time fighting with the ants who want to eat your food and the sandflies who want to have a feast on you.  Spring and autumn though always seem to me like the perfect time to pack up the basket and head outdoors for a little alfresco dining.

Tulip Tree 2

In my part of the world, right now is absolutely perfect picnic time.  The weather is glorious.  It's still plenty warm enough to be outside in something sleeveless, but without the harsh intensity of summer's heat.  There's scarcely a breath of wind, and the light has that beautiful golden quality that is unique to autumn.  Doesn't hurt also that here in New Zealand we can experience breathtaking scenery at just about every turn - sounds braggy I know, but it's actually true.  I only have to look out my front windows for a vista which sweeps from the sea to The Grampians.  Everything is so lushly green, after last week's heavy rain, punctuated by a blaze of gold and russet as leaves turn and trees begin to shed their autumn cloaks.  If ever there was a siren call to the great outdoors, this is it, and so it couldn't be better timing that this week our I Heart Cooking Clubs' theme is "What's in your picnic basket?".

We continue to cook with Nigel Slater, and I found that he had loads of great dishes which were either suitable for, or easily adaptable to, picnic fare.  I happened to have a pile of mushrooms on hand, so when I stumbled upon his recipe for "Mushrooms with Basil and Lemon" in a Marie Claire cookbook written by Nigel I knew I'd found just the thing.  I love a raw mushroom salad - it's the kind of thing that doesn't need to be refrigerated, and only gets better the longer it sits around, which makes it positively ideal for taking to a picnic.  Layer it up in a big Agee jar, as I have done, and you have something which transports well and looks like you've done something really special.  If you want to be even more fancy schmancy, you could actually put this into several smaller jars for individual servings - just remember though that, whilst that might look cool, all that extra glass weighs something and, unless you have a party of Sherpas available to help out, you are probably going to be the one who has to carry it!

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This salad gets plenty of flavour from loads of basil, parsley, and lemon, a nice bit of extra texture from crunchy coriander seeds, and a good kick of heat from some chilli.  I used a small, hot chilli with the seeds left in, but if you prefer just a whisper of heat choose a milder chilli and remove the seeds - it's totally up to you.  This would be a great salad alongside some cold chicken or smoked salmon, or something as simple as a crusty baguette to mop up all the salad juices.  It would also be great to take along to a barbeque - it won't mind sitting around, and would be delicious with grilled meats, vegetables or fish.

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Mushroom, Basil & Lemon Salad Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Nigel Slater
from Marie Claire Cookbook
Serves 2-4 depending on what else you have to go with it
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

250g (9 oz) mushrooms
1x lemon
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
large handful of basil leaves
large handful of flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 red chilli, finely chopped
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Grate the zest of the lemon into a small bowl and set aside.

Wipe the mushrooms clean with a barely damp paper towel (do not wash them) and cut into quarters, or wedges if they are large.  Place mushrooms in a medium sized bowl, add the red wine vinegar and juice of the lemon.  Mix gently together and leave aside for about an hour to marinate.

Roughly chop the herbs and add to the bowl containing the lemon zest, adding also the coriander seeds, chilli, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Mix together well.

Spoon alternating layers of mushrooms and herb mixture into a clean preserving jar, pour over any vinegar or oil remaining in your bowls, seal the jar and head for the great outdoors.

If you would like to get to know Nigel Slater a little better, and to see what everyone else has in their picnic basket this week, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links ...


... or check out Marie Claire Cookbook by Nigel Slater and Nigel's many other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Fishpond NZ.

I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the delightful Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays hosted by my lovely friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads, at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollum, and at Cook Your Books hosted by the lovely Joyce at Kitchen Flavours.

See Ya in The Gumbo Badge    Souper Sundays Badge    Weekend Cooking Badge    Foodie Friday Badge    Cook Your Books Badge

Lastly, I'm also sharing this post at a new to me event - Cooking with Herbs hosted by the very lovely Karen at Lavender and Lovage.  Thanks, Karen, for the invitation to participate.  Check out the links below to see all the other lovely "herby" dishes.

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage


40 comments:

  1. Now I wonder why I have never thought of trying the raw mushroom salad...it looks absolutely delightful.

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    1. Thanks, Angie. The great thing about this is that the longer you let it stand, the better it tastes.

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  2. A dish that improves upon standing is perfect picnic fare. I love raw mushrooms in a salad but have never thought to make them the focal point of one - looks delicious!

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    1. Thanks, Zosia. Not only can these mushrooms be the hero of the dish, I would be quite happy to just make a meal of this salad.

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  3. I love picnics! though we hardly go on them anymore. I remember once long, long ago, our family hiked a trail up in the Big Bear mountains to a vista point to have a picnic and my sister put a big rock in my back pack, and giggled all the way. Anyway, love raw mushrooms and this is a very clever salad.

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    1. Thanks, Cheri. That was a bit of a cruel trick - I hope time has granted you the opportunity for a little bit of "pay back" :-)

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  4. Lovely presentation!. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

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    1. Thanks, Carole, and thanks for visiting :-)

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  5. Buenísimo ....me gusta es novedosa su receta,abrazos

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    1. Thank you, Rosita - that is very kind. And thanks for stopping by - I appreciate your visit.

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  6. Oh yum! I love picnics and I love mushrooms, the dressing sounds fresh and delicious. Nice photos too :)

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    1. Thanks, Teddyree - the lemon and herbs worked so well with the mushrooms.

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  7. Sounds delicious and great for a picnic! If the mushrooms are good, I'll wash them and eat them straight from the bag, so this salad sounds perfect to me!

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    1. Thanks, Laurie. I do that too - I always buy just a few more than I need which I devour while I'm preparing whatever it is the mushrooms are going into :-)

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  8. This looks wonderful! I love the idea of salads in a mason jar... have seen all sorts of combinations on Pinterest lately.

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    1. Thanks, JoAnn. Food in jars is great fun, isn't it, and looks so much prettier than a plastic tub.

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  9. I LOVE picnics and I also LOVE salads in jars, and this one is a winner! if you ever fancy linking up to my Cooking with Herbs challenge, then I would be delighted to see this or any other future recipes! :-) http://www.lavenderandlovage.com/herbs-on-saturday

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    1. Thanks, Karen, and I will definitely come on over and link up. That sounds like a great event, and I'm sure I will find plenty of opportunity to participate.

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  10. That salad looks so attractive in the jar. I want to plan a picnic just for that!

    Joy's Book Blog

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    1. Thanks, Joy - that's the spirit - fill a jar and head outside today :-)

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  11. Lucky for some - Wellington is well past picnic weather..but at least I have love to keep me warm ;P Have been thinking of you, hope all is well in sunny Nelson x

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    1. Hey Sasa. Well as if to spite me for my smugness, barely the day after I posted this the rain gods sent a deluge so heavy that my dining room got flooded!! But for all that, life is pretty good, and I'm pleased that love is working its magic for you xo

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  12. I don't picnic enough. I should change that. Sadly the weather here is about to get very cold, and it wouldn't be fun. I've always liked a marinated mushroom salad, but never made one myself- it's so simple, I don't know why. I didn't know that the hills behind Nelson were called The Grampians- I thought immediately of our Grampians in Victoria, and wondered how you could see them from there!

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    1. I had forgotten that you have Grampians over there too, Louise. That would be one heck of a view to be able to see them from here, wouldn't it :-)

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  13. What is it about a jar that makes a salad so much more fun?!? This looks fabulous--I am crazy for mushrooms and I love the flavor combination in this one. Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays.
    (Glad you are enjoying the weather right now.) ;-)

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    1. Thanks, Deb. There is just something about food in a jar, isn't there :-)

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  14. I'm with Deb. Something about serving salad in a jar is ever so pleasing to the eye and certainly makes things fun! I tend to agree with you about packing it all up into one jar instead of individual jars. A light picnic basket is ideal!

    This is a gorgeous salad, Sue! Love the pic of the tree. Extremely pretty:)

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    1. Thanks, Kim. The tree is a beautiful tulip tree which used to stand outside our yoga school in Christchurch. Sadly, the yoga school is no more, but the tree has survived.

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  15. this looks great and love fall, please share pictures of the area where you live :-)

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca. I'll try and put some photos up on the blog sometime soon.

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  16. Your salad perfectly fits to my bread. I am a juge fan of glass jars

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    1. Thanks, Ulrike. You're right - I think this would be perfect with the lovely herby focaccia that you made.

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  17. We often put mushrooms in our salad, so this one appeals to me. Love the salad in a jar idea!

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    1. If you like mushrooms in a salad, Beth, you will definitely enjoy this version that makes the mushrooms the hero.

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  18. Fresh mushrooms, lots of seasoning. Sounds perfect.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret, and thanks for stopping by - your visit is appreciated.

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  19. Hi Sue,
    This is one lovely salad! I never did thought of using mushrooms in a salad, and this sounds so refreshingly good with the lemon.
    I love the first photo of the tree, the different shades of the leaves are just so beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, Joyce - the lemon and herbs definitely bring a real freshness to this salad. Pleased you like the photo - I suppose you don't really get autumn in your part of the world, do you?

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  20. I like this a lot ! My picnic dish didn't work out at all so I decided not to use time editing photos and such. I wish I would have made this lovely salad instead! Thank you for stopping in and linking this week, Sue.

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    1. Thanks for your kindness, Michelle. Sorry your dish didn't work out, but thanks for taking the time to stop by - I know you are really busy right now xo

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