salad I’m not one of those vegans. I mean I’m not one to fool myself or others with faux stuff. I’ve tried the non-dairy “cheeze”. It’s nasty. Buffalo tofu wings? Visited, didn’t buy the t-shirt. I’ve even tried to scratch the unscratchable itch - pizza with so called crispy crust, melty cheese, soysage pies. There’s not enough hot sauce in the world to fix those wrongs.

What I’ve learned is faux anything is just fooling yourself. Fear not, for there is truth in this tale. Real foods, plants, legumes and fungi are, in their own way, quite honest.

So, this is absolutely not a recipe for faux hanger steak salad. If you make this and it reminds you of hanger steak, we’ve both failed. But, if you do make this and love the charred, rich, textured bites of unctuousness, well, then we’ve got something.

I love maitake mushrooms. They are dense at the base, springing forth a fringed, tangled forest of ridges. From the top they look like the diagram of a brain, or perhaps beautiful coral. They are brilliant mushrooms for cooking. Their shape and structure mean some of the outer ridges get crispy while the denser, inner core simply warm through.

Here, we’ve paired some maitake segments, seared on high heat, with simple bibb lettuce and some small potatoes.

It is the ultimate in…drat…faux steak salads.

For the Dressing:

makes 1 cup

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 caper berries (1/2 teaspoon of capers as a substitute)
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 generous pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of neutral oil (canola)

Place everything except the oil in a blender cup. If using a stick blender, blend on high until smooth. If using a traditional blender, blend in medium until smooth (too high creates too much froth). Turn blending device on medium or low and slowly drizzle in the oil until a smooth emulsion is reached.

For a more tart, lower fat dressing, reduce to 1/2 cup of oil. Note, the result will be less emulsified.

For the potatoes:

  • 4 medium sized yukon gold fingerling potatoes

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a very generous amount of salt. Boil potatoes for 10–13 minutes until fork tender.

For the mushrooms:

  • 2 maitake clusters, both roughly softball sized
  • 3 tablespoons Edward & Sons Wizard Sauce - this stuff is amazing!
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Heat a pan over very high heat. Once hot, add a substantial film of canola oil. Section the mushrooms into segments, each about the size of a very large strawberry. Pace into the hot oil and season liberally with kosher salt.

Step back. Don’t touch the pan.

Let the mushrooms sear in the hot pan until they are deep, dark golden brown, even charred at the edges. Turn them once and achieve similar brownness.

Deglaze the pan with the wizard sauce and balsamic vinegar. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the residual energy to evaporate the liquid, leaving the mushrooms coated with no remaining liquid in the pan.

To plate:

In a bowl, toss the rinsed bibb lettuce with 1–2 tablespoons of the dressing. Remove the leaves and assemble on a plate.

Slice the potatoes into 1" rounds. Place in the same bowl you used for the lettuce and lightly dress with the dressing, 1 tablespoon should do it. Add to the arranged lettuce.

Place glazed maitake mushrooms on top of the salad. Garnish, if desired, with a small amount of crunch sea salt.