Cheap Recipe: Mushroom Salad with Bacon Raspberry Vinaigrette

26 Mar

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

You can tweak this salad to suit everyone’s tastes.

On a cold, sloggy day, a lone clearance-priced package of spring mix was calling my name from across the produce aisle.

I spent the whole of yesterday dreaming up this salad to make with it.

The camera really doesn’t do justice to all of the pretty colors in the salad. And it’s important to note that you can swap out any of the individual ingredients if you find something you like better; think of this post as more of a guide than gospel, and play around with whatever’s on sale in your own local produce bin or farmer’s market.

First things first, boil some eggs. At least 2. (I always like to make lots of extras to keep in the fridge, though. After all, if you’re going to the trouble of making your kitchen reek of that evil egg-fart smell, why stop at one meal’s worth?)

You need some sort of "lettucey" produce. 🙂

Start with about 3 or 4 cups of any leaf vegetable–lettuce, baby spinach, arugula, whatever. (There’s always something on Manager’s Special that doesn’t look wilted quite yet–try something new.)

Next, make about 1/2 cup of VERY thin slices of onion (red or otherwise). I can never seem to slice them thinly without butchering the rings, but snaps to you if you’ve got some mad onion-slicing skills.

Or maybe you have some other great skills:

“…You know, like nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills… Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.” — Napoleon Dynamite

Evil onion!!!

(Seriously, though–that was the most WICKED ONION I have ever sliced IN MY LIFE. Just look at my eyes. I look like Ramona Quimby on smack.)

Anyway, divide the sliced onion pile and toss half of them into the salad mix.

Next,  add about 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms to the salad. Don’t waste money on the pricey Baby Bellas or anything like that. Plain old white mushrooms will do just fine, and even look a little flashier against the darker colors of the salad mix.

Throw in about 1/2 cup fresh (washed) raspberries. If they’re not in season or on sale, you

Sunflower kernels: Save your walnuts for the prom.

can always swap out this ingredient with something else–fresh strawberries, even canned mandarin oranges work nicely and make a fine salad/vinaigrette substitution on the cheaps.

I also like walnuts or pecans in my salad, but that can drive the price of the meal way up. I’ve found that substituting dried sunflower kernels is much, much cheaper–a giant jar of them I can’t use up in six months is only $1.19! And no one seems to notice the difference. Same texture, flavor, etc.–at a fraction of the price.

Sizzle, sizzle.

Heat a medium-sized skillet and place 5-6 strips bacon in the bottom. (You’re wanting the grease mostly, so if you don’t want crumbled bacon bits on your salad later you can just use any reserved bacon grease you’ve got rocking around!) Fry until crisp; remove bacon from pan, leaving the grease. Move skillet to a cooled surface.

By now, the eggs should be getting closed to hard-boiled. When ready (after boiling 15-20 minutes), place them in ice water to cool so they will separate from their shells more easily.

Meanwhile, take another 1/2 cup of ripe raspberries (or whatever fruit you’re using) and mash with a wooden spoon until juiced.

"...Say 'hello' to my little wooden friend! Muwahahaha!..." (insert maniacal laughter)

Sprinkle mashed fruit with 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or equivalent minced garlic) and 1 teaspoon salt; mix well.

Stir in 3 tablespoons salad oil (the type of olive oil that’s been cut with soybean oil is a REAL money saver) and 2 tablespoons red wine- or cider vinegar.

Dump vinegar mixture into liquid bacon grease and stir well. Add the other half of the sliced onions to the vinaigrette; mash into mixture with wooden spoon.

Allow vinaigrette to sit for a minute or two while you slice the boiled eggs and add them to

Strain vinaigrette mixture before serving.

the salad. (Throw crumbled bacon on the top, too, if you like.)

So sweet and tangy.

Strain the dressing mixture with a spoon and drizzle liquid over salad. Serve immediately.

I like to sprinkle crumbled crackers on mine. 🙂


4 Responses to “Cheap Recipe: Mushroom Salad with Bacon Raspberry Vinaigrette”

  1. Rheannon March 28, 2010 at 8:41 AM #

    I hate slicing onions! I have a Pampered Chef, of course, mandolin that makes perfect thin rings so quickly that I don’t cry 🙂

  2. Gracie March 29, 2010 at 10:52 AM #

    I must have!! 🙂

    I always forget to chew gum when I start slicing them, and then by the time I remember that trick, my fingertips are all oniony and would just make the chewing gum taste like onion if I went and got some out of my purse at that point.

    I hate being dumb and forgetful. Not the way to go. In addition to being skinny in my next life, I will also be brilliant.

    And also rich.

    And able to run a 3-minute mile.

    And possibly a redhead.

  3. Rheannon March 29, 2010 at 7:16 PM #

    You are so funny. I had my hair red for a while, I liked it. Not like Bree on Desperate housewives red but brownish red. go for it.

    I also want to be rich!

  4. Gracie March 30, 2010 at 8:07 AM #

    Geoff and I thought you looked cute as a redhead. 🙂

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