Warm Kale and Caramelized Mushroom Salad Recipe

Deeply golden brown sautéed mushrooms paired with hearty kale and a tangy sherry vinegar dressing.

Warm kale and caramelized mushroom salad in a white ceramic bowl on a green surface. There are a pair of wooden spoons at the bottom right corner, a glass of golden liquid in the top left corner, a stack of plates covered with a napkin in the bottom left corner, and another plate of salad in the top right corner.

Serious Eats / Qi Ai

Why It Works

  • Browning the mushrooms creates a rich, earthy flavor that contrasts well with the bright, peppery kale and zingy dressing.
  • The heat of the mushrooms wilts and softens the kale slightly without needing to cook the greens.
  • Hearty enough for a vegetarian lunch, it’s also a great side dish or first course.

When you cook as a couple, you have to constantly deal with what each person does and doesn't like to eat. One of us (Matt) loves mushrooms, though, admittedly, mostly fried up English-style for breakfast; the other (Emily) used to dislike them, finding them to be either chewy, slimy, rubbery, or otherwise unappetizing.

We eventually realized that the problem wasn't with the mushrooms, it was how we'd been cooking them. We'd been treating mushrooms like most other vegetables, when we really should've been cooking them like meat. By searing mushrooms until deeply browned, you can bring out their earthy, meaty, umami-packed flavor, while their interiors remain tender and juicy. Now, we have no conflict—we both love mushrooms and work them into our meals all the time. Here, we toss them with baby kale and a flavorful sherry vinaigrette to make an easy, filling salad.

The key here is to develop a really good crust on the mushrooms, just like you would with a steak. And one of the best ways to do that is to avoid crowding the pan—mushrooms are prone to dumping a lot of liquid, which is why they often wind up steaming themselves instead of searing. The less crowded the pan is, the less liquid they'll dump, and the faster said liquid will evaporate, allowing the mushrooms to stop steaming and start searing. You don't even have to move them around much—just let them sit and sizzle in the oil, stirring just enough to brown them on all sides. The whole process can easily take six or seven minutes, if not more.

The choice of mushrooms is entirely up to you—we almost always start with a basic cremini (sometimes sold as baby portobellos) and then add in whatever varieties pique our interest, from cultivated oyster and shiitake mushrooms to wild chanterelles and black trumpets. Incorporating more than one type of mushroom adds a wealth of nuanced flavor and texture to this dish—just keep in mind that if you use shiitakes, you'll want to remove and discard their tough, woody stems.

After a nice, crisping sear, what you end up with are mushrooms that will satisfy both vegetarians and people who think bacon should be a food group. They're salty and savory, crispy and juicy.

To finish the mushrooms, we add sliced shallots to the pan and cook them until softened and tender, then deglaze the pan with some sherry wine, reducing it until it's nearly evaporated.

Then, we toss the mushrooms and shallots with kale leaves and a dressing of rich, nutty sherry vinegar, mustard, a touch of honey, and olive oil. (If you don't have sherry vinegar, a good red wine vinegar is a fine substitute.)

Today, one of us (Matt) is thrilled that the other (Emily) is fully on board the mushroom train. Now, if only we could agree on Marmite and kidney beans...

Caramelized mushrooms and kale salad on a black plate, sprinked with goat's cheese pieces.

November 2016

Recipe Facts



Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Active: 25 mins
Total: 25 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 1/2 cup (120ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 pound (450g) assorted cultivated and/or wild mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, oyster, chanterelle, porcini, etc.), trimmed of woody stems and thinly sliced

  • 1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) dry sherry

  • 4 cups (5 ounces; 140g) baby kale (or use large kale, cut out and discard the rib and finely shred the leaves)

  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) sherry vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Dijon mustard

  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) honey

  • 3 ounces (85g) fresh goat cheese, crumbled (optional)


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they've released all their liquid and are browned, about 10 minutes total, reducing heat if oil starts to smoke excessively. Lower heat to medium, and stir in butter and shallots. Cook, stirring often, until butter is melted and shallots soften and turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add sherry and cook until mostly evaporated. Remove from heat and keep warm.

    A four-image collage. The top-left image shows the browned mushrooms inside of a skillet once the liquid has been released from them. The top-right image shows the sliced shallots added to the skillet and softened. The bottom-left image shows sherry being poured into the skillet out of a small white ceramic bowl. The bottom-right image shows the pan of shallots and mushrooms with the sherry almost completely evaporated.

    Serious Eats / Qi Ai

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil with sherry vinegar, mustard, and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Alternatively, add dressing ingredients to a jar, cover, and shake until emulsified.

    Olive oil, sherry vinegar, mustard, and honey whisked together and seasoned inside a small bowl.

    Serious Eats / Qi Ai

  3. In a large bowl, toss kale with just enough dressing to lightly coat. Add warm mushrooms and toss again. Add more dressing, as needed, to lightly coat all ingredients. Top with goat cheese, if using, and serve. Extra dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for another use.

    A vertical two-image collage. The top image shows the baby kale leaves being tossed with dressing in a stainless steel bowl by two salad tongs. The bottom image shows the warm mushroom mixture now added to the bowl and being tossed into the salad with additional dressing.

    Serious Eats / Qi Ai


For a list of assorted cultivated and wild mushrooms, check out our Serious Eats mushroom shopping guide.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
292 Calories
25g Fat
12g Carbs
8g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 292
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 18mg 6%
Sodium 353mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 16mg 80%
Calcium 86mg 7%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 669mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)