Much as I love mushrooms, mushroom soup is not actually up there on my list of best dishes. I pretty much never order it when we're out as it's so often a disappointingly un-mushroomy bowl of scented cream. At home I do have two mushroom soups I like to make, but one is really a squash soup with marinated mushrooms floated on top, and the other is mushroom and barley, which has appeared quite a bit in blogland recently already. Luckily, Lisa and Holler have broadened this month's requirements, however, so that it can be either soup or salad. When faffing about on Cooking Light for some completely other reason that I can't even remember now, I found an interesting-sounding recipe for strawberry and poppy seed salad, which I decided to adapt as a vehicle for mushrooms.
It was very easy. Quite anti-climactic after all that wittering really, but its taste was wonderfully complex. It was basically sliced strawberries and flaked almonds on a bed of leaves, with a sweet poppy seed dressing drizzled over the top. I used Hampshire watercress (of which more soon, I hope) which I'd picked up at the central Oxford farmer's market last week when my work coincided with its day for the first time ever. I left out the almonds on my portion, but grilled some sliced mushrooms in the George Foreman (just for ease, since we were already cooking other things on the stove-top) and scattered them over the watercress with the sliced strawberries. And I made the dressing as written below.
It looked great - all that lovely green watercress, bright pink strawberries and poppy-seed dotted dressing. It tasted great - crisp, slightly bitter cress, cold moist strawberries, ever-delightful mushroom, and both crunch and sweetness from the dressing. AND, it was a doddle to make. The dressing was really quite sweet - you could easily cut back on the sugar quite a bit, but it really made the salad. Poppy seeds really seem to pack a punch of flavour. I've only ever really had them on bread or in hamentaschen, but I've used them in a pear and seed cake this week as well, and the flavour came through much more than I'd expected from the quantity in that, too.
Next time, history AND food in one event. I may need to lie down for a while before I write that one.
Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing (Cooking Light)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 (10-ounce) bag romaine lettuce
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
Place lettuce in a large bowl; add strawberries and almonds, tossing to combine. Divide salad evenly among 6 plates. Drizzle 1 tablespoon dressing over each serving.
6 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)