Most of us know that our tastebuds react to four tastes – sweet, sour, bitter and salty. But did you know there’s a fifth taste called ‘umami’? Uuuuumami! (That’s oo-ma-mee.)
Umami has been translated from Japanese as ‘yummy, deliciousness’ or a ‘pleasant savoury taste’. It is the taste sensation we often associate with food items that are ‘meaty’ and have a slow-cooked taste. This is why Black Bean Burgers, Lentil Meatballs and Portobello Mushroom Pizzas exist and make perfect vegetarian and vegan alternatives- it’s the umami! Again, this is the stuff I nerd out on. Very interesting TED talk on the topic and all you have to do is google ‘what is umami?’ and you can go down my same rabbit trail.
I enjoy this mushroom salad because it’s warm, colourful, nutty, packed with flavour from the vinaigrette and makes a great light dinner option that is quick and inexpensive to make.
For the salad:
1/2 cup hazelnuts (or preferred nut)
2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
2 handfuls of small cherry tomatoes
2 pounds mushrooms (chestnut or button are delicious, cleaned and sliced)
6 ounces salad greens (kale, arugula, spinach or a mix of your choice)
1 cup mix of fresh herbs (optional) such as chives, tarragon
2 tbs coconut oil
For the dressing:
3 tbs white wine vinegar or balsamic
9tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme + rosemary
Preheat the oven to 375°F/190C. Toast the nuts on a baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes, rolling them around once or twice to make sure they toast evenly.
Chop the hazelnuts and mushrooms coarsely in a small food processor.
Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons coconut oil, add the mushrooms, thyme, salt + pepper.
Sauté the mushroom mix for about 5 minutes, softened but not limp (your cooking time will depend on the type of mushrooms you used). Add tomatoes, cook till soft not mushy.
Spread salad greens on a plate. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top. Spoon hot mushrooms + tomatoes over the salad greens.
For the dressing: whisk the shallots, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a bowl and let sit for five minutes (this will soften and almost pickle the shallots), before whisking in 5 tablespoons olive oil. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss
Adjust to taste — you may need more salt, pepper, vinaigrette or even more vinegar.
Share with your people. x
- If you tolerate dairy, add some freshly grated parmesan or crumbled goat cheese
- Not a hazelnut fan? Use almonds or pumpkin seeds for a crunch
- To be AIP compliant, omit nuts/seeds, dairy + tomato. Can substitute a roasted vegetable of your choice. Toasted shredded sweet potato or parsnip perhaps?