Grilled Wild Mushroom Salad with Black Walnut Vinaigrette
Black walnuts possess an earthy, intense flavor very different from the "tame" flavor of the familiar English walnut. For some, this distinctive flavor is an acquired taste; for others, it's love at first bite.
Given the intense flavor of black walnuts, black walnut oil is much milder in flavor than you might expect. It has a surprisingly rich, buttery texture with complex notes reminiscent of truffle oil. It's robust enough to hold its own with full-flavored ingredients, like wild mushrooms, yet it's never overpowering or cloying.
Add the woodsy flavor of fire-grilled chanterelle mushrooms and the sweetness of ripe pears, and you just might find that this is a salad to remember.
Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, shallots, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Thread the mushrooms on skewers and arrange on a baking sheet. Brush with the olive oil mixture and grill over moderately hot coals on both sides until tender and golden brown.
Remove the mushrooms from the skewers and quarter or slice thickly.
Toss the greens, mushrooms, and vinaigrette and arrange on plates with sliced fresh pears and toasted walnuts.
Black Walnut Vinaigrette
1/3 cup black walnut oil
1/3 cup grapefruit or lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
Whisk the oil, grapefruit juice, and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved.
Stir in the mint and salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture sit for about one hour before serving, in order to develop the flavors.