Summer is officially here and with it comes the desire for easy recipes that are light, yet hearty. This plant-based salad is a perfect side dish for outdoor barbeques or as a vegetarian main dish.
Today’s recipe comes from Cathy Thomas who wrote three best-selling cookbooks in conjunction with Melissa’s Produce.
“Melissa’s Great Book of Produce,” “Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce,” and “50 Best Plants on the Planet.”
These cookbooks demystify the produce aisle, clarifying how fruits or vegetable taste and look – plus how to buy, store and use them in delicious, straightforward recipes. There is always something new to learn about fruits and vegetables.
I met Cathy at a recent a media luncheon at Melissa’s Produce where we were able to sample dishes from all three books.
Cathy worked for 25 years as the Food Columnistat at The Orange County Register. (She was named best Food Columnist in the nation by the Association of Food Journalists.)
Cathy’s motto for entertaining is creating delectable dishes without spending hours in the kitchen
Here is a look at some of the dishes in her cookbooks.
No-noodle Chinese Salad w/Peanut & Ginger Dressing – “Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce“
Waldorf Salad w/Blueberries & Toasted Pecans – “Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce“
Grilled Mozzarella-Stuffed Chard with Black Rice – “50 Best Plants on the Planet“
Vietnamese Cucumber, Noodle & Shrimp Salad – “Melissa’s Great Book of Produce”
Apricot, Cherry & Blueberry Cobbler – “Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce“
Prairie Caviar with Chips – “Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce”
Check out the recipe here.
There are several aspects of the recipe I’m featuring here, Portobello Salad, which makes it so special. One is the marinated red onion in apple cider vinegar and fresh mint. Don’t skip this step – it’s key to the delectable flavor of the dish.
Cathy Thomas roasted her Portobello mushrooms, but since it is summer and hot, I chose to cook them on the grill outside. Not only does the kitchen stay cool, but also the mushrooms have a nice, smoky overlay.
Pleasantly sweet, very crisp, and a bit juicy, gorgeous red and yellow Enjoya Peppers from Melissa’s Produce make a beautiful addition to this – or any – salad.
I learned from Cathy that we tend to take lettuce for granted, committing murder on a regular basis as we manhandle the tender leaves. Cathy showed us how to remain crimeless and not commit lettuce murder in the video below.
She also taught us how to simply dress a salad, leaving no excuse for not eating a salad daily.
I love the blue cheese in this salad, but I know many don’t care for its slight bite. You can easily substitute a mild and creamy goat cheese, which is great in this hearty dish.
Portobello Mushroom Salad
- 1/2 medium red onion thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon minced fresh mint
- 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Course salt kosher or sea
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large Portobello mushrooms
- 1 1/2 Large heads red or green leaf lettuce torn into bite-size pieces about 12 cups)
- 1 red bell pepper cored, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
- 1-2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
Combine the onion, rice vinegar, and mint in a small bowl; toss and set aside to marinate.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
To make the dressing: Whisk together the cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and mustard in a small bowl or glass measuring cup with a handle, and season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil in thin stream. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
To make the salad: Put the mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush the mushrooms on both sides with dressing. Turn them stem-side up and roast until tender, about 15 minutes, brushing with dressing at 5-minute intervals, reserving the leftover dressing. Set them aside to cool slightly.
Drain the onions, reserving the vinegar. Put the onions in a large bowl. Add the lettuce, bell pepper, and reserved dressing; toss. Taste and, if needed, season with the reserved rice vinegar, salt, and/or pepper. Divide the salad between six plates. Cut the mushrooms into 1/2-inch slices. Fan them on top of the salads. Top with the cheese.
Snap or cut off the stems and wipe the mushroom caps with a moist paper towel.
To prevent dark-colored gills from discoloring a dish (such as this salad), scrape them off with a spoon; discard the gills or use them in a stock.
Whether you are trying to eat more of a plant-based diet or want to learn more about produce, Melissa’s Produce cookbooks are a great resource.
…and then, she paused for thought.
Judy at My Well Seasoned Life.
This salad looks wonderful and easy to make.
Thanks Judy. It is refreshing and travels well for picnics.
Susan Herrmann Loomis
Cathy – well, this sounds yummy! And your photos make it jump right off the computer (if only it would, right onto my table!).
I wish you were here and I would make it for you. I think you would really like it.
Love portobello mushrooms… so I must try!!! Loved the lettuce video… don’t know how I figured it out… but I have always done my lettuce storage exactly like the video!!! Wow… I did something right!!!
You are a smart woman Cheri! Hope you enjoy this salad.
Lovely, fresh post <3 Beautiful salad recipe and useful video clips.
The title of your post dragged me here at 1:30 am 🙂 And I can savor this kind of salad with every meal. Everyday.
Thanks for introducing us to Melissa and her cook books <3
Thanks Nusrat! Hope you got some sleep. 🙂 Enjoy.
Sue @ It's Okay to Eat the Cupcake
What a beautiful salad, Cathy! I’ve added it to my list of summer must-makes…I am intrigued by the red onion in apple cider vinegar and mint.
The longer you let it marinade, the zippier the salad. It is a great combination of fresh ingredients.
This will be added to my Fourth of July dinner! Thanks for the salad tips too!
Happy 4th of July Mary! 🙂
My summer salad to-do list just got longer. GREG
This salad was a crowd pleaser at my last BBQ. 🙂
Looks so yummy and satisfying~ wonder if we can outdoor grill the portobellos if we don’t feel like heating up the oven indoors in this Summer heat? Can’t wait to make….plus some of those other inspiring produce recipes! Thanks Cathy you keep us healthy and filled up with yummy dishes! XO
HI Julie! I grilled the mushrooms for this salad and it turned out great. Enjoy!