Summer is the time when we prefer eating light and a fresh bowl of salad is just the perfect option to beat the Indian heat. Although this salad uses exotic ingredients sourced from non-Asian countries, I infused a bit of Asia (can’t help, it’s my nature!) in this recipe with two of my favourite Asian ingredients: Sambal Oleek and Plum Sauce. The portobello mushrooms are used raw. For those in this part of the world who never imagined eating raw mushrooms, let me tell you, these taste great even if eaten raw, provided that these have been treated with the right ingredients! My summer salad is a happy combination of portobello, cherry tomatoes, white asparagus, green asparagus and lettuce. I made a vegetarian version of ceviche with portobello mushrooms. The salad dressing is an unusual combination of ingredients and can also be used as a dip for your favourite snacks. Actually, I should have named this salad as Cosmopolitan Exotic Summer Salad, as its ingredients come from different parts of the world.
Have you ever tasted plum sauce mixed with Tahini, or Sambal oleek with oregano? Any combination tastes great if you know how much importance to give to each ingredient. This dressing has predominant notes of sweet-n-spicy sambal and sweet Chinese plum sauce, with undertones of tahini, oregano and lime juice. For this salad, the tossing with the dressing should be done softly and quickly, to avoid wilting of the vegetables.
Godrej Nature’s Basket recently gifted me a basket of exotic vegetables, stuffed with bundles of beautiful green asparagus spears, thick white asparagus, fresh cherry tomatoes on vine, Portobello mushrooms and lettuce. I used the white asparagus, but in shaved form. I shaved two plump white asparagus spears with a vegetable peeler. The green asparagus were not peeled, but used in the salad after chopping them roughly.
Apart from the buttery and crisp bread croutons, I cooked or steamed nothing, not even the mushrooms! My mushroom ceviche is made up with a good amount of lime juice and some chilli flakes and can be eaten separately too, if desired.
Exotic Summer Salad
- Portabello mushrooms sliced thinly: 2
- Green asparagus spears roughly chopped: 12
- White asparagus shaved: 2
- Lettuce roughly torn: handful
- Lime juice: 1 tbsp
- Chilli flakes: ½ tsp
- Cherry tomatoes halved: 12
- Sambal oleek if not available, try replacing it with any chilli-based Asian sauce: 1.5 tbsp
- Plum sauce: 1.5 tbsp
- Dried oregano: ¾ tsp
- Tahini: ½ tsp
- Bread croutons: crisp-fried with butter
- Minced garlic: ¼ tsp
- Salt and sugar: optional
- Add the lime juice and chilli flakes to the sliced mushrooms. Cover and keep aside in the refrigerator for 30 min.
- Combine sambal, plum sauce, tahini and oregano in a bowl. Toss the sauce into the chopped salad vegetables. Add the shaved white asparagus and the Portobello mushroom ceviche at the end. Mix the contents in the salad bowl thoroughly, just before serving. Just before serving, add the croutons over the salad.
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