While at the Palomino Restaurant and Grill in Westwood recently, we had a wonderful Smoked Mushroom Salad. Who’d have thought to smoke mushrooms? Could be the Palomino just stumbled on this wonderfulness as their grill is fired with walnut hardwood or they have a clever chef. In any case, smoking the mushrooms brought out a deep woodsy flavor along with the mushrooms natural earthiness. This salad served with freshly baked and grilled bread was so good I knew I had to give it a try. It was just so different and delicious.
Mushrooms are so delicate that it doesn’t take long to smoke them, once you get smoke going on the grill a half hour should do the trick. You don’t even need to break out the real smoker as you will see from the technique we used below.
This salad would be great paired with a grilled chop, steak or venison as it is a ‘hunter’ type salad with the smokiness, as well as delicate with the wild mixed greens, Gorgonzola and crunchy walnuts flavor combination. You can smoke the mushrooms the day before if you are making this for company, and in fact we recommend that you do so otherwise all your guests may smell of smoke if they hang around the BBQ.
Smoked Mushroom Salad by Debra Crawford
1 8-oz Package Fresh Mushrooms (crimini are good for this)
1 4-oz Container Gorgonzola Crumbles
1 12-oz Package Fresh Mixed Greens
1/2 Cup – Lightly Chopped Walnuts
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Wood chips or a cedar plank
1/4 Cup – Olive Oil (for dressing)
1/8 Cup – Good Balsamic Vinegar (if it isn’t good it can be sour to taste, you may need to add a bit of honey to your dressing)
2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper
On a cookie sheet (that you don’t mind putting on the grill) place the wood chips or the cedar plank. Light one side of the BBQ and place the sheet with the wood over the heat. You will need to watch this, as the wood can catch fire, you may need to spray or adjust the heat from time to time. You want heat and smoke.
Slice mushrooms thickly, put on another cookie sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and salt and pepper, then toss lightly. Place on the cool side of the grill. You just want them to pick up the heat and smoke.
Smoke at about 300-350 degrees until the mushrooms are tender and smoke infused. Usually, about 1/2 hour. Remove and refrigerate until ready to use. Use within a few days.
To assemble salad,
Plate 1/4 of the lettuce, top with 1/4 of the mushrooms, crumbles and walnuts. Whisk together the dressing ingredients, season to taste (add a little honey if too tart) and drizzle lightly on the salad. Great served with freshly grilled bread or hot rolls.