Ever since a friend blew my mind with the revelation that oyster mushrooms can be used in place of chicken in chicken noodle soup (see: Oyster Mushroom Noodle Soup) I’ve wanted to continue experimenting with this magical ingredient.
If you’ve never tried oyster mushrooms, you’ll be amazed at how their taste, texture, and even aroma strongly resembles chicken when cooked. Today, we’re taking advantage of this ingredient to make a classic chicken salad with shredded chicken, grapes, walnuts, and celery – all drenched in mayonnaise. That’s what we’re making. Kind of.
Our version will include most of the same ingredients, with two big exceptions: we’ll use cooked oyster mushrooms with a little soy sauce to bring out even more flavor, and our “mayonnaise” will be made with cashews and sunflower seeds. Not only is this one a million times healthier than the original, but I dare say it’s even tastier too…
Makes 4-6 servings
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 cups sliced oyster mushrooms
- 1 shallot
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup halved green grapes
- 2/3 cup walnuts
- Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
- Baby spinach, for serving
Instead of mayonnaise, we’ll be using nuts and seeds to make a creamy dressing. To do this, soak about 1/4 cup of raw cashews with 1/4 cup sunflower seeds for at least an hour. Then, when ready to make the salad, drain off the soaking water and blend them with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of brown/turbinado sugar, a few pinches of salt, and just enough fresh water to form a mayonnaise consistency. Blend until smooth and set aside.
In a skillet, combine 1 finely-diced shallot with a tablespoon of soy sauce, a sprinkle of powdered garlic, and 3 cups of oyster mushrooms that have been sliced or pulled apart into small chicken-like shreds. Allow this to simmer together for about 7-8 minutes, tossing regularly, until the mushrooms soften and you have something that looks, smells, and tastes eerily like chicken:
With the “mayonnaise” and the “chicken” ready, it’s time to assemble this easy salad! Grab a large mixing bowl and add 1 cup of sliced celery, 1 cup green grapes (sliced in half), 2/3 cup chopped walnuts, and the mushrooms (strain out any excess liquid from the mushrooms first). Toss together, then add about 1/2 cup of the cream sauce onto the salad and a generous sprinkle of salt and ground black pepper.
Refrigerate until chilled and serve on a bed of baby spinach, on toast, or just with a fork.