Early Greeks and Romans are believed to be among the first cultivators of mushrooms, using them in a wide variety of savory dishes. Sizes, shapes and colors of shrooms vary tremendously; there are literally thousands of varieties. Although wild foraged mushrooms are delicious, it is vitally important to know which species are edible, as many are quite toxic. Cultivated mushrooms are widely available in markets, with several varieties grown right here in Maine.
Eating mushrooms is good for your health, as they are a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin and niacin, which are important for maintaining healthy red blood cells and good digestive health. They are one of nature’s most versatile foods, and can be used in hundreds of ways, both raw and cooked.
The recipe for Warm Spinach and Mushroom Salad uses assertive fall greens like spinach, kale and cabbage and tops them with a dressing prepared from sautéed mushrooms. Use the recipe as a guide, and make allowances for your personal creativity. Grated orange carrots would make a nice addition, or cooked white beans. The last of the fresh basil or chopped rosemary would add a new taste dimension.
Mushrooms are one of the few naturally occurring sources of Vitamin D. Research supports that those of us who consume mushrooms have the healthiest and most sustainable diets.
Warm Spinach & Mushroom Salad
- 8 cups greens: spinach kale, radicchio, grated red and green cabbage
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 – 1 ounce slices bacon chopped
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- 3 cups mushrooms cleaned and sliced
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Maine maple syrup
- 2 ounces soft goat cheese
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- Wash the greens and break them into bite-sized pieces. Combine them with one-tablespoon olive oil in a large bowl, tossing to evenly coat with the olive oil.
- In a large skillet, add one-tablespoon olive oil and the chopped bacon. Cook over medium heat until the bacon starts to sizzle. Add the chopped onion and cook until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms, stirring and cooking until the mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat and add the cider vinegar and Maine maple syrup, scraping the pan to remove all the caramelized bits. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper. Add the goat cheese and stir briefly so that it softens. Pour the mixture over the greens and toss well to coat.