I told myself that after a no-holds-bared eating fest that happened over the holidays in Houston (seems to happen every time I visit that city), that I would slowly simmer down. With the cold weather and the steady stream of party foods that followed, my plan never came to fruition. Nearly two months later, it's high time I finally act, and over the weekend I decided that a salad was in store—grilled, of course.
I'm not much of a recipe follower when it comes to throwing together some leafy greens and a vinaigrette, but this particular one caught my eye because it required the grilling of spinach. Finally, an interesting way to use my underloved accessory, the grilling basket. Not only was the dressed spinach taken to the flames, but also the sage-rubbed portobellos and walnuts. This was a grilled salad through and through.
This meal fit into the season as much as a salad could. The mushrooms gave it a heartiness, the walnuts a nice toasty crunch, and the warm, wilted spinach was like a hint of the freshness that will soon come. Now the trick is to keep up some lighter eats while enduring the final throes of winter.
Grilled Wilted Spinach & Portobello Salad
Adapted from Grilling & Roasting by Chuck Williams
- 1 lb fresh portobellos, scrubbed clean and stems removed
- 1/4 cup safflower oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 10 oz spinach, stems removed
- 2 tablespoons walnut oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Light one chimney full of charcoal. While the charcoal is lighting, brush the mushrooms with the safflower oil and sprinkle with the sage and pepper, set aside.
Whisk together the walnut oil, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over the charcoal grate. Place a cast iron skillet on the grill. When heated up, place the walnuts in the skillet and cook until lightly browned and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring nuts frequently. Remove the skillet from the grill and coarsely chop the walnuts.
Place the mushrooms on the grill, gill side down, and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until browned and just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes longer. Remove from the grill and slice into 1/4 inch strips.
Place the spinach leaves in a grill basket, and sprinkle with 1/2 of the the vinaigrette. Place the basket on the grill and cook until the leaves are slightly wilted, about 3 minutes on each side.
To assemble the salad, place 1/4 of the spinach leaves on each plate, add a few strips of the mushrooms, sprinkle with the walnuts, and dress with remaining vinaigrette to taste.