Shaved Mushroom, Parmesan and Fennel Salad with Pine Nuts
Portion/Yield:Serves 6 as a side dish or accompaniment or as a starter
This salad reminds me of home in South Africa and the barbecues we often enjoyed as a family. Mum used to add thinly sliced raw button mushrooms to a mixed salad and she served it with Thousand Island Dressing. It was a fun salad, tasty too, and it brings back lovely memories of summer back home.
I think raw button mushrooms must have fallen out of fashion for a while; I had forgotten how delicious they are in this fresh, raw salad. It is pretty quick and easy to prepare too, which is a definite bonus on hot summer days.
Please note though that the shaved mushrooms don’t keep well, as they discolour slightly and become soft after about an hour. Therefore, I recommend that you get all the ingredients together, make the dressing and prepare the salad (except the mushrooms), then when you are ready to serve, slice the mushrooms and put the salad together at the last minute; it’s really easy and quick. I have used a mandoline to slice the mushrooms, but a sharp knife will also work just as well.
Ingredients & Method
For the lemon and mustard dressing
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- a pinch of caster sugar
- 140ml olive oil
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the salad
- 50g pine nuts
- 1 large fennel bulb (about 200g), trimmed
- 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 50g fresh Parmesan cheese
- 200g medium white button mushrooms, dusted or lightly brushed (to remove any bits of soil; avoid washing them as it makes them slippery)
To make the dressing, measure the mustard, lemon juice, water, sugar and salt and pepper into a jug and blend together using a hand-held stick blender until combined. Slowly add the oil, whilst blending continuously, until all the oil is added and you have an emulsion. Adjust the seasoning to taste, adding more salt and pepper, if necessary.
Transfer the dressing to a squeezy bottle or covered jar and set aside in the fridge until you are ready to serve (see Cook’s Note). Shake or stir the dressing just before use.
To make the salad, first toast the pine nuts. Heat a small, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat until hot, then add the pine nuts. Wiggle or shake the pan gently a few times over the heat until the pine nuts turn golden brown – this takes no more than 1–2 minutes and be sure to watch them closely as they will burn quickly. Tip the toasted pine nuts onto a plate and spread them out so they cool quickly. Once cool, roughly chop them.
Use a mandoline (or a sharp knife) to thinly slice the fennel into a mixing bowl. Add the parsley and chopped toasted pine nuts, then use a vegetable peeler to shave the Parmesan cheese into the salad. Season lightly with salt and pepper, toss the ingredients together gently, then set aside at a cool room temperature (for 1–2 hours, if required) until you are ready to serve.
When you are ready to serve, use a mandoline (or a sharp knife) and shave (or very thinly slice) the button mushrooms into the salad. Add a few spoonfuls of the dressing and toss gently to mix, then serve the salad immediately with more dressing on the side for those who would like it.
This salad is ideal served as a side dish or accompaniment to barbecued meat or with pan-fried mackerel, but it also makes a great starter served with fresh crusty bread.
Store any leftover dressing in a covered jar or squeezy bottle in the fridge for up to a week. Serve it with other salads such as a mixed leaf salad, Little Gem and avocado salad or plum tomato and red onion salad.