By Francesca Patterson
Summer came through with all it’s hot fury this week and I think it might be here to stay now. This means the salad greens are nice and crisp and that the sweet, fresh tomatoes are going to be coming in heavy from now on. I am definitely ready for all of that. With this wonderful heat comes the interest for meals that feel very refreshing and appetizing without bogging you down too much.
I was browsing through our options for mushrooms at the farm stand the other day, and as someone who is not usually a huge mushroom fan, I was impressed by the look of the shiitakes. They were clean, a nice light brown color, and looked like with just a little oil they’d get crispy and tasty. I decided to take them home and figure out what to do with these beauties.
Recalling one of the first recipes I wrote for Norman’s last year, I knew these shiitakes are an excellent substitution for crunchy, savory bacon. When I remembered that, instantly I wanted to try these in a BLT situation. This salad is exactly what I was hoping for and even more. The crunchy and savory mushrooms surpass all the expectations of bacon, especially when met with the famous flavor combo of fresh green lettuce and juicy tomatoes. With a creamy mayo-based dressing, this is like a deconstructed, keto-friendly BLT sandwich of your dreams. If you want to make this recipe completely vegan, simply switch out the mayo for your favorite veganaise or vegan yogurt. If you are really missing the sandwich aspect, just toss this salad together and slap it between two pieces of your favorite bread and you’ve got yourself the real deal. Using almost entirely Norman’s ingredients (besides the dressing), I was able to make this awesome side dish for a Saturday night dinner that I will keep in my back pocket.
- 1 or 2 heads of romaine lettuce (chopped into 1-inch pieces)
- 1 large or 2 medium red tomatoes (large diced)
- .5 lb of shiitake mushrooms (rubbed cleaned, not rinsed!)
- 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (or veganaise)
- 1 tablespoon of mustard (preferably dijon)
- 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
- 1 pinch of sugar
- black pepper
- olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375. Toss shiitake mushrooms with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, two pinches of salt, and a pinch of paprika (optional). Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet and place in preheated oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until all are crispy and dark brown.
- Drain the mushroom ‘bacon’ on a paper towel and set aside to cool. This can be done ahead of time, as they taste great at room temp too.
- In a small cup or bowl, combine the mayonnaise (or veganaise), mustard, white wine vinegar. Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, and some black pepper to taste. Whisk this all together until combined.
- Prep your lettuce and tomatoes and arrange them in a large bowl or plate. When mushrooms are cooled, sprinkle them all over the salad. You can crush them to look like bacon bits but I left mine whole.
- Drizzle the whole salad with a generous amount of dressing. Serve it immediately like this, or you can combine it all and save in the fridge with the dressing on the side.