This has actually been one of those weeks that hasn't been big on cooking. It's been cold here - winter has arrived - which to me means roasted vegetables, soup, and big meaty meals. But sometimes those types of meals take effort. Well, not necessarily effort so much as time. And that means long stretches of time, mostly on weekends, to cook, which I haven't had lately. Oh poor me! Well, not really (we all know by now that I actually like to be busy - I outed myself on that one).
So, as per usual, I've been spending most of my weekends in the mountains. That means that I've actually been eating lots of big meaty meals, either in mountain huts, at ski resorts, or at traditional restaurants in small Bavarian villages. Which is why I tried to counterbalance those heavy meals with this much healthier salad. It's been a pretty enjoyable way to eat healthier during the week.
Pomegranate, Hazelnut and Cremini Mushroom Salad
The first important point about this salad is that it doesn't have to be cremini mushrooms- that's just what I use the most. Any mix of wild mushrooms works particularly well. The key is that you want meaty, flavorful mushrooms. Also, as I already noted, the pomegranates are optional, but they do add a delicious crunch and give the salad a rather festive feel.
1 large bunch arugula (or other greens)
2 - 3 large handfuls cremini or wild mushrooms, sliced
1 cup (170 g) hazelnuts, roasted
fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese
seeds from 1/2 of a pomegranate
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
glug of white wine (optional)
salt and pepper
1 cup (240 ml) balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1. Roast hazelnut until skin is dark brown and remove skin by rubbing the roasted nuts in a clean dish towel. You don't have to get all the skin off, but try your best to get a substantial amount off.
2. Start your vinegar reduction- mix the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar together in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low, simmering and stirring occasionally.
3.. Wash and dry the arugula and pile into a large salad bowl.
4.. Melt the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over high heat. Sauté the mushrooms with the rosemary, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper until all the moisture has disappeared from the pan. If you want, pour in a glug of wine and sauté for another minute until the alcohol also evaporates. Remove the frying pan from the heat and layer the mushrooms on top of the arugula in the salad bowl.
5. Add the roasted hazelnuts and the pomegranate seeds to the salad.
7. When the vinegar has thickened into a viscous sauce, pour it over the salad.
8. Last, liberally grate fresh parmesan all over the salad.
9. Serve warm.