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Wilted Spinach Salad with Chanterelles

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Spinach

In September, as the days grow shorter and cooler many of our favourite autumn fruits come into their own. While we are still enjoying the strawberries and raspberries, it’s good to see brambles, plums and damsons as well as elderberries and sloes.

Also good at this time of year are the golden chanterelle mushrooms foraged for us in Scotland’s woodlands. Their beautiful golden colour and firm texture make them perfect for breakfast, sautéed in butter, or smothered in rich, thick white sauce on sourdough toast.

They do need careful cleaning, as particles of grit can lodge between the gills. The best way to do this is with a toothbrush under running water, but it’s best not to get them waterlogged and dry them carefully afterwards. Their meaty flavour goes well with chicken stock in a wild mushroom risotto, or why not make a wilted spinach salad with chanterelles? The contrast between the deep green spinach and the golden yellow mushrooms is very pleasing. This recipe is adapted from the Mycological Society of San Francisco Cookbook, which is helpfully available online.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Chanterelles, adapted from the Mycological Society of San Francisco Cook Book (https://www.mssf.org/cookbook/chanterelle.html)

Serves 4 as a first course (starter)

250g golden chanterelles sliced or roughly torn
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
1 bag spinach
1 small purple top turnip, peeled and finely grated, about 100g
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 hard-boiled egg, cut in wedges (optional)

Blanch the chanterelles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain on clean kitchen towel, then dry carefully. Marinate the chanterelles in the lemon juice for 15 minutes.

In a large sauté pan, fry the bacon until crispy, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and reserve. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan.

Clean and wash the spinach in several changes of water. Dry well and mix with the chopped spring onions, grated turnip and marinated chanterelles.

Right before serving:

Heat the bacon fat in the pan. Add the vinegar and crispy bacon pieces and, while still hot, pour over the spinach mixture and toss. Serve on warm dishes garnished with wedges of egg.

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