Fall salads don't always get the attention that they deserve, often overshadowed by warmer dishes like soups and roasted veggies. That said, fall salads that are loaded with seasonal produce like butternut squash and pomegranate seeds offer the best of all worlds — warm, cooked veggies, dark greens, and sweet pops of fruit, all brought together with tangy dressings and rich cheeses. "This is my type of meal!" says recipe developer Jessica Case, who came up with this fall harvest caramelized mushroom salad. "I'm a big salad lover [and this salad is] loaded with a lot of delicious veggies, cheese, fruit, and homemade dressing. The mushrooms are quite tasty, giving the earthy flavor into the salad," she says.
And it's the mushrooms that truly make this recipe stand out because it doesn't call for a single variety, but a mix of your favorite fungi. "The variety of mushrooms gives it different textures and flavors. It also gives a rich, earthy flavor that contrasts well with baby spinach, pomegranate seeds, butternut squash, and a zingy dressing," Case explains. The end result is a salad that works well as a side or an entree. "If you want to add protein, grilled chicken will hit the spot," Case suggests.
Gather The Ingredients For A Fall Harvest Caramelized Mushroom Salad
Start by gathering your ingredients for the salad. You need to round up olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper, butternut squash, assorted wild mushrooms of your preference, unsalted butter, shallots, dry sherry, baby spinach, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, fresh goat cheese, and pomegranate seeds. While most of the ingredients are fairly specific, Case assures that the mushroom choice is entirely in your hands. "It's always good to start with a basic cremini (sometimes sold as baby portobello), then add in whatever varieties interest you," she says, pointing to options like cultivated oyster, shiitake, wild chanterelles, and black trumpet mushrooms as good choices.
Roast The Butternut Squash
First up, you need to roast the butternut squash. Go ahead and preheat the oven to 425 F, then prep your butternut squash by cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds, and dicing it into small cubes. Line a pan with parchment paper or foil and spread the butternut squash across the pan in a single layer. Drizzle the squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper, tossing to combine. When the oven is hot, bake the squash for 40 minutes or until it's golden brown.
Cook The Mushrooms
While the squash is roasting, you can start cooking your mushrooms. Heat the butter in a large skillet over high heat and add the mushrooms. Cook them, stirring occasionally, until they've released their liquid and have browned. This should take about 10 minutes. "While the mushrooms are cooking you don't have to move them around much. Let them sit and sizzle in the oil, stirring just enough to brown them on all sides," says Case. This allows the flavor to soak in.
Add The Shallots And Dry Sherry To The Mushrooms
When the mushrooms are cooked, reduce the heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, followed by the shallots. Cook, stirring regularly, until the shallots soften and become translucent. This should take about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the veggies and fungi with salt and pepper, to taste, then add the dry sherry to the mix. Cook everything until the sherry has mostly evaporated before removing the pan from the heat.
Whisk Together The Dressing
Grab a small bowl and add ¼ cup olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and honey to the bowl. Whisk it all together and add salt and pepper, to taste.
Toss Together The Spinach And Dressing
Now, you just need to build your salad. Start by tossing the spinach in a large bowl, and drizzling it with the dressing.
Add The Remaining Ingredients, Garnish, And Serve
Pour the roasted butternut squash into the greens and mix gently until it's well combined. Add the mushrooms to the bowl, tossing everything again, adding more dressing as desired. Just keep in mind, that you should be mixing gently — you don't want to damage the spinach or cause it to wilt. To that point, Case says if you prefer a cold salad to a slightly warm one, it's best to make sure you allow a little time for the mushrooms and squash to cool, as adding hot veggies to spinach will cause the greens to wilt or soften. "It's a preference," Case says. "You can have [the salad] warm or cooled. It [tastes] amazing no matter what."
Fall Harvest Caramelized Mushroom Salad Recipe
Prep Time: 55mCook Time: 10mYield: 4 ServingsIngredients
1 medium butternut squash, cut, scooped, and cubed
¼ cup of olive oil plus 2 tablespoon and more for heating
Kosher salt and black pepper for seasonings
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, chanterelle, porcini, rimmed and sliced
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
¼ cup dry sherry
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
4 cups baby spinach
3 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
½ cup pomegranate seeds
Preheat the oven to 425 F degrees. Line the cubed butternut squash in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Combine and bake for 40 minutes or until it's golden brown.
Heat butter in a large skillet over high heat, add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they've released all their liquid and browned, about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium, and stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and shallots. Cook and continue stirring until shallots soften and becomes translucent, 5 minutes. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
Add dry sherry and cook until it's mostly evaporated. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Use a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup olive oil with balsamic vinegar, mustard, and honey. Add some salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss baby spinach and lightly coat with dressing. Add roasted butternut squash and mix gently until well combined.
Add warm mushrooms and toss again, gently. Add more dressing, if you wish. Top with goat cheese and pomegranate seeds.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.