Black garlic is gold.
If you haven’t yet tried this ingredient, it’s high time that you did.
Whole bulbs of garlic are cooked at a low temperature over several weeks to completely caramelize them. The result is garlic without its acrid aggressiveness. Instead, it is the flavor of dark molasses crossed with balsamic, along with the butteriness of garlic. It adds a jolt of umami to anything. The cloves turn squishy, sticky, and yes, black.
Just squeeze the cloves out of their papery skin to use them, chopped or pureed in vinaigrettes, stir-fries, spread on crostini, or rubbed on steaks, chicken or fish before cooking.
“Portobello Mushroom & Celery Salad with Black Garlic Sourdough Crumbs” is an ideal way to get your fix of black garlic goodness.
This recipe is from the new “Around the World in Salads” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy. The book is by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi, owners of London’s Caldesi Restaurant and Caffe Caldesi, as well as Caldesi in Campagna in Bray.
With fall here and the weather turning ever so cooler, there’s no reason to give up on eating salads. Indeed, this book provides an array of salads perfect throughout the seasons, many of which are substantial enough to stand on their own as entrees.
Included are everything from breakfast salads such as “Ginger and Turmeric Fruit Salad with Whipped Coconut Cream” to seafood ones such as “Chargrilled Squid, Potato, and Watercress with Green Bread Crumbs & Lemon Dressing” to hefty ones such as “Chicken Shawarma, Lettuce & Cilantro Salad with Lemon Creme Fraiche” to dessert-like ones such as “Strawberry, Pistachio & Mint Salad with Rose Water Cream and Meringue.”
The portobello salad comes together very easily. You make your own croutons by tearing up some sourdough bread, and tossing with olive oil, thyme leaves, salt and pepper, and the chopped black garlic. Now, just be warned that the black garlic is not going to adhere to the bread chunks. But that’s OK; just be sure to scrape up all those delicious little bits of black garlic from your baking pan to use on the salad.
I decreased the amount of oil that the croutons are tossed in before baking. The recipe called for 5 tablespoons, but I think 3 tablespoons is plenty. However, if you like a generous amount of oil, feel free to use the entire amount.
The only other changes I made were to use a spoon to scrape out the gills from the underside of the cap of each mushroom, just because I think it gives them a better appearance. I also sliced them after they were cooked, then arranged them with the greens, rather than putting them whole on each plate.
This is a very “meaty” tasting salad even though there is no meat in it, thanks to the mushrooms. The black garlic is what makes this dish special. The salad is full of wonderful earthy flavors, the exact kind you crave when it’s fall.
Portobello Mushroom & Celery Salad with Black Garlic Sourdough Crumbs
For the salad:
2 small slices stale sourdough bread
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
3 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing
6 medium black garlic cloves, roughly chopped, or 1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large portobello mushrooms
A large handful of red salad leaves, such as mustard, beet greens, or radicchio
1 celery stalk, finely sliced on the diagonal
A handful of celery leaves, torn
For the red wine dressing:
1 cup good quality red wine
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons mild honey or maple syrup (for a vegan option)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Tear the bread into small pieces about an inch in size. Put in a bowl and toss with the thyme, oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Spread out onto the lined baking sheet and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until they become crisp. Transfer the bread chunks to a plate to cool. Heat the broiler to high.
Remove any woody parts from the end of the mushroom stems. Use a spoon to scrape off the dark gills from underneath the mushroom cap (optional). Brush the tops of the mushrooms with half the oil. Broil them on a flat rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet for 10 minutes or until softened and wrinkled around the edges. Turn them stem upward, brush with the remaining oil, season with salt and pepper, and broil again until lightly crisp around the outer edge and cooked through, about a minute or so more. Remove from the broiler and keep warm.
To make the dressing, put the wine in a small pan, bring to a boil and reduce to one-third of the original volume. Remove from the heat and pour into a pitcher with the remaining ingredients and whisk vigorously to combine. Season to taste and set aside to cool.
Mix the salad leaves, celery, and celery leaves, with a little dressing.
Slice the mushrooms and drizzle with a little of the dressing. Arrange the salad greens on plates, arranging mushrooms on top or on the side. Garnish with bread chunks, being sure to add any black garlic pieces that have fallen off. Serve with any extra dressing on the side.
Adapted from “Around the World in Salads” by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi
Another Portobello Recipe to Try: Chef Alexander Ong’s Roasted Portobello Mushroom “Joong”