I get an unbelievable craving for this delicious salad out of the blue and today was one of those days........
The inspiration for this yummy salad came from a fun, local pizzeria called Lilly's Pizza. The first time I ever ordered it, I was quite smitten by the unique combination of ingredients and the fresh, vibrant flavors that seem to explode with each bite. The combination of fresh spinach, lots of fresh basil, sautéed portobellos along with tomatoes, toasted almonds, a sprinkle of Fontina cheese and a drizzle of a delicious Asian dressing............. it spells DELICIOUS and really.............it just doesn't get much better! I don't get to Lilly's very often, since it's not in close vicinity to where I live, so I decided to create my own version of this wonderful salad. Now I can not only satisfy my own cravings, but I can treat my family and friends to this fabulous fresh delight any time the impulse strikes!
I like to serve this salad with Garlic/Lemon/Herb Crostini. I just slice up a baguette, brush the slices with olive oil combined with one clove minced garlic then bake until crispy. When I remove it from the oven, I sprinkle it with some finely chopped parsley, lemon zest and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. A crusty French baguette would also be a great choice.
The delicious, meaty portobellos really make this a complete meal, but the salad could also be served in smaller portions as a first course or a side with any grilled or roasted meat. You might want to make a little extra of the Peanut-Ginger Vinaigrette - it's fabulous and can be used on just about any salad and is wonderful drizzled on grilled chicken or pork. Bon appétit!
P.S. And yes, you're right! I did forget the toasted almonds in my picture! I got a bit distracted - you would too if you had such a handsome photographer!! :)
Pan-Seared Portobella & Spinach Salad with Fresh Basil and Peanut-Ginger Vinaigrette
4 large portobello mushrooms, with stems and black gills removed*2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
8 cups baby spinach
2 cups fresh basil leaves, tear if large otherwise leave intact
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
½ cup toasted sliced almonds
Peanut-Ginger Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Garlic/Lemon/Herb Crostini, if desired (see method in post above)
1. Slice mushrooms in half, then slice each half into one half inch slices. Heat oil in a large saute pan on high heat. When oil is hot, tilt pan to coat bottom and add mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes. Mushrooms will loose their liquid after about 5 minutes. Continue cooking until all liquid is absorbed and mushrooms begin to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and cool slightly while preparing salad.
2. Divide spinach and fresh basil among 4 plates (among 6 plates if serving as a side or appetizer salad). Scatter mushrooms, tomato halves and cheese over greens and drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve immediately. Pass extra dressing at the table. Enjoy!!
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup peanut oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Place peanut butter, soy sauce and honey in a medium size glass jar. Microwave, uncovered for 30 seconds. Mix with a small whisk or a fork until smooth.
2. Add remaining ingredients, place cover on jar and shake very well.
Makes about 1 1/4 cups.