French in a Flash: Paris Mushroom Salad with Lemon, Parsley, and Parmesan

Mushroom Salad

Dress up ordinary button mushrooms with shaved Parmesan and a bright parsley and lemon dressing. This salad is light but meaty and earthy at the same time. Get the recipe!

[Photograph: Kerry Saretsky]

I've always marveled at the simple fact that no matter what I do to myself in Paris, I always lose weight. And I do a lot to myself while I'm there. I do cheese-stuffed crêpes. I do Berthillon ice cream sundaes (can't get enough of that raspberry whipped cream). I do pain au chocolate for breakfast, and tarte au citron for dessert. I do brioche. I do frites. I do steaks and cheeses and whole baguettes. I do rillettes. And confit. And tartare. And I always come home two pounds lighter.

I think I've figured it out. Aside from the fact that walking every which way in Paris is just about the most enjoyable form of exercise on God's green earth, I also eat a ton of salads. It helps that the produce stand (if you can call it a stand—it's half indoors) a block from my old apartment—where I still stay whenever I visit—is always brimming with a tumble of seasonal vegetables and baskets of Tiffany-caliber berry gems. You just have to eat them. Some of my favorite recipes are the salads I invent when I'm in France: carrots with Dijon and walnuts, pears with Roquefort, peppers with roasted garlic, and mushrooms with parsley and lemon.

Champignon de Paris sounds far more glamorous than button mushroom, but they're one and the same. As anyone who's been to Paris will tell you, presentation is everything. The city is there to be glimpsed—the people, the buildings, the pastries. A salad of champignons de Paris is no different. Slice the humble mushrooms beautifully and thinly in a food processor, then chuck the parsley and cheese in right along with them. Turn the whole bowl over, and top with lemon zest, olive oil, bright wine vinegar, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. I don't think button mushrooms are good for much else, but they're perfect for this simple, clean, and bright salad.

Bon app.