09 December 2011

Warm Mushroom and Leek Salad

OK, I realize this is going to make me seem schizophrenic after my last, somewhat unhealthy post with a recipe for potatoes baked in cheese, but I actually don't eat like that every day. I also have to try harder in the winter not to pig out on heavy stuff, as hot food is the main way I keep warm in this drafty old house.  In the summers, it's easy  to keep my dinners light by grazing in my garden and making salad, cutting up some cheese and fresh bread from the farmer's market,  and maybe throwing in some kind of olives (often from my martini).  But in the winter, a plate of Romaine lettuce and some hard carrots just doesn't do it for me; it leaves me feeling even colder than before dinner.  Warm salads (a poetic way of labeling sauteed vegetables) are my winter solstice answer to the problem of overstuffing myself at dinner; this one will also work well as a topping for rice or pasta (perhaps some ramen?) for a more filling meal.

Warm Mushroom and Leek Salad

Serves 4

2 small leeks, washed and sliced
12 oz. dried shitake mushrooms
8 oz. white button mushrooms, quartered
½ yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 heaping tablespoon white miso paste
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon  soy sauce

Soak the shitake mushrooms in hot water in a large bowl for 1 hour or until they are soft and pliable.  Remove mushrooms from liquid, reserving 1 cup of the soaking liquid for the broth, squeeze out excess moisture, and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat and add the peanut oil.  When it shimmers, add the onion, garlic, and leek.  Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are very soft, about 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and soy sauce and continue to cook until mushrooms release their liquid, about another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the reserved mushroom soaking water, miso paste, and ginger.  Pour over the mushroom mixture in the skillet and stir thoroughly to incorporate.  Serve warm with bread, rice, or pasta or as a side to accompany fish or poultry.