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When cold salad feels boring, make warm mushroom salad!
Why warm salad?
Honestly, I’ve only had warm salad a handful of times and usually it’s made of 100% quinoa. As much as I love a good quinoa salad, I was curious if I could make a warm salad where the ingredients are more balanced Let me tell you, I succeeded! Plus it’s getting cold – who wants to eat cold food when it’s chilly outside?
What goes into warm mushroom salad?
I experimented with a handful of different ingredients but eventually landed on a combination of lactino kale, baby bella mushrooms, black lentils, garlic, shallots, avocado, hemp hearts, seitan, leeks, red cabbage, balsamic vinegar, and balsamic glaze. A lot of ingredients, I know, but every single ingredient is so good for you!
Let’s start with kale. Did you know kale boosts your wellbeing and might even help with health problems? It’s packed with fiber, vitamin K, antioxidants, and many others. Next up are mushrooms. For this recipe I chose baby bella mushrooms which are super high in vitamin D – it even says so on the package I purchased! In addition to this, they’re low-fat and low-calorie. Mushrooms contain selenium – an element that helps your body produce selenoproteins to support your immune system.
Next we have black lentils. I am new to this color lentils but have found them to be my new favorite. They kind of have a black bean vibe, but they’re not as big as black beans so overall its presence in dishes is more subtle. The best part about lentils regardless of color is their protein content. Lentils have about 25% of their macros in protein making it a great substitute for meat and a wonderful addition to this warm mushroom salad. If you’re a black lentil fan and are looking for more ways to incorporate them into your recipes, check out this vegan tortilla soup.
Another ingredient to highlight in the mix here is seitan. Seitan is one of my go-to high-protein ingredients. With its deep “beefy” flavor, I find it complements the mushrooms in the salad. I will probably end up sharing a recipe for seitan in the near future but find store-purchased seitan does the trick for this salad. If you’re looking into certain brands, I’m a fan of Westsoy as they’re readily available about most grocery stores.
Then there are leeks – an underrated vegetable in the onion family. Leeks have a super mild flavor but are still very distinct. You only eat the base part of the leek which seems strange since the pretty part is actually inedible. Well, I’m sure you could eat it, but it might not taste that great. For this recipe, you’ll need two leeks which you’ll saute with shallots and garlic. If you’re a leek fanatic like me, I recommend looking into this creamy cauliflower leek soup.
Massage that kale, baby!
Have you ever had bitter kale? I have and it’s the worst! Fight off those bitter vibes by massaging your kale for 3-5 minutes. Doing this makes the leaves softer and easier to eat as well as releases natural sugars within the leaves overcoming the bitter flavor. I don’t think you need to do this for every type of kale, but it’s necessary for lactino kale since it’s so bitter and tough. How do you massage kale? It’s pretty simple! Just put it in a bowl and “knead it” as you would to bread dough.
How to prepare warm mushroom salad
As much as I would love to save you lots of dishes, this salad unfortunately produces a lot of them. Womp womp. You’ll start out by making the black lentils according to the instructions on the package. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to cook lentils or do one more dish in your dishes pile, you can always use canned lentils. I prefer dried simply because they’re cheaper, but sometimes black lentils can be hard to find. If you can’t locate them, don’t give up! You might find them in the canned section of your local grocery store.
As the lentils cook, break out two skillets and add the mushrooms and a shot of balsamic vinegar to one and garlic, leeks, and shallots to another with a shot of water. Saute both mixtures adding water along the way to ensure sticking does not occur. Once the mushrooms are cooked thoroughly, add the seitan, and remove it from the stove when warm.
Meanwhile, cut and massage your kale. Then, run the leaves under hot water in a strainer for a minute or two until warm. Transfer to a large bowl, then add the lentils, leek mixture, mushroom mixture, toss on some red cabbage, sprinkle some hemp hearts, and add a healthy dose of avocado. Serve with a dressing of balsamic vinegar and balsamic reduction. Ladies and gents, we’ve got ourselves a salad!
Warm mushroom salad is macro-friendly
For those who are counting macros, this salad is perfect for you! This salad packs in 436 calories per serving at 31% protein, 26% fat and 42% carbs. A majority of the protein comes from three key ingredients: seitan, lentils, and hemp hearts. The fat comes from the hemp hearts and avocado. And the carbs? Well, everything else.
In this segment, I suggest a song for you to listen to while you make warm mushroom salad! You can even stream it right here in your browser. Today’s Recipe Jam is Extra-Ordinary by Public Practice.
If you try this recipe, I want to hear about it! Feel free to post your creations to Instagram or Facebook and tag Hell Yes It’s Vegan or #hellyesitsvegan. I look forward to seeing your creations!
Warm Mushroom Salad
- medium-sized pot
- 2 skillets
Warm Mushroom Salad
- In a medium-sized pot, prepare the lentils according to package instructions. While they cook, add leeks, garlic, and shallots to a skillet with 2 tablespoons of water. Sauté until browned – about 10 minutes – adding more water if needed to ensure sticking does not occur.
- In a second skillet, add mushrooms and balsamic vinegar. Sauté until mushrooms are cooked thoroughly – about 10-15 minutes. Add the seitan and remove from heat once warm.
- Add kale to a strainer and massage the leaves for about 5 minutes. Then, run the leaves under hot water for 2 minutes until warm.
- Whisk together the balsamic vinegar and balsamic glaze to make the dressing.
- Add the kale to a large salad bowl with black lentils, the leek mixture, and the mushroom mixture. Top with avocado pieces, hemp hearts, and red cabbage. Serve immediately with balsamic dressing.