Mushrooms Baked in a Pouch: Bitter Greens and Broken Bread Salad

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Baked Mushroom and Broken Bread Salad with Bitter Greens

I love bold tasting greens. From peppery arugula to bitter radicchio. I often use these greens as a base for a main course salad. In which case I’m likely to toss these greens with something warm. It helps soften the boldest of greens, creating a delicious dichotomy of texture. Chicken Liver Salad is a classic example. Lately, I’ve been making a lighter version using mushrooms baked in foil pouches. I call it Baked Mushroom and Broken Bread Salad. In the Agrigento region of Sicily, mushrooms are wrapped in butcher’s paper then buried in hot ashes. I’ve simplified this traditional preparation (known as funci ‘ncartati or sometimes funghi al cartoccio) to make this broken bread salad.

Baked Mushrooms

Baked Mushroom and Broken Bread Salad with Bitter Greens

But the success of this salad relies on more than just warm mushrooms. It also calls for toasted broken bread pieces and a big pile of bitter greens. The warm peppery bread is easy to love. In fact, it’s practically comfort food all on its own. But when it comes to the greens, well, a lot of people have trouble with their bold, bitter flavor. But like everything else worth eating this broken bread salad with bitter greens is just really a matter of harmony. Using a variety of greens with varying flavors can help soften the bite. But there are other ways to balance the bitter too. The sweetness of balsamic vinegar is a popular choice. But it’s not always the perfect answer, in my view. The best antidote for a bitter bite is a salty kick. Think of how often naturally bitter mushroom beg for a few grains of sea salt to mellow the flavor. Anchovies work well too. This salad features just enough anchovy to bring all the conflicting tastes and textures together. GREG

Baked Mushroom and Broken Bread Salad with Bitter Greens

Baked Mushroom and Broken Bread Salad

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Inspired by Guy Mirabella and Judy RodgersPublished
Baked Mushroom and Broken Bread Salad with Bitter Greens

Ingredients

  • ½ cup cup grated pecorino Romano
  • ¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 3-4 anchovy fillets (chopped)
  • ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (separated)
  • 1½ pound small to medium cremini mushrooms (large mushrooms should be halved)
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper (as needed)
  • ½ loaf ciabatta bread
  • 3 ounce hearty mixed greens (such as arugula, dandelion, frisee, and/or watercress)
  • ⅓ cup anchovy vinaigrette (plus more for serving, see recipe)
  • 1 ounce toasted pine nuts

Directions

Place the oven racks in the middle and top positions. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl combine pecorino, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and lemon zest. In a separate large bowl combine lemon juice, anchovies, ⅓ cup olive oil, and mushrooms; toss to coat. Season well with salt and pepper, sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture and toss again.

Transfer the mushroom mixture to a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with foil. There should be no gaps.

Bake on the middle rack in the heated oven for 30 minutes then remove the foil and continue to cook another 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size and water content of the mushrooms. Use your judgment.

Meanwhile, tear the ciabatta bread into bite-sized chunks and put onto a separate parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and lots of black pepper. Place in the oven on the top rack for the last 12 to 15 minutes of the mushroom cooking time, or until the bread is golden and crisp on the edges but still chewy on the inside.

To serve: Toss the greens with the vinaigrette in a large bowl to coat. Add the warm mushroom mixture with all the crunchy bits of cheesy breadcrumbs and the pine nuts; toss again.

Divide the bread chunks between four plates, top with the mushroom and greens mixture, dividing any accumulated juices between each plate evenly. Serve warm with additional vinaigrette on the side.

Anchovy Vinaigrette

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Mark BittmanPublished

This vinaigrette is best made fresh but will keep refrigerated for a few days. Before using, bring it back to room temperature, and whisk briefly.

Anchovy Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon good red or white wine vinegar (or more to taste)
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 anchovy fillets (or more to taste, with some of their oil)
  • 1 shallot (about 1 ounce, peeled and cut into chunks)

Directions

Combine all ingredients except shallot in a blender, and turn the machine on. A creamy emulsion will form within 30 seconds. Taste, and add more vinegar if necessary, about a teaspoon at a time, until the balance tastes right.

Add shallot, and turn the machine on and off a few times, until shallot is minced within the dressing. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve.

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