You’ll forgive me for posting yet another salad recipe, I hope. It’s just that our autumn weather here in England this year is like I have never known it to be in the over twenty years I have lived here. It’s redolent of the autumns I remember in Canada with the sound of crisp leaves underfoot, lazy late afternoon sunshine and evenings spent in the garden. Normally British autumns are grey and wet, leading the nation to muse woefully on the dreaded dark and still wetter yet winter to come. This autumn is full of hope and promise and everyone is lighter of mood and step for it. I’m sure normal programming will resume very soon, but for the moment I am revelling in the bright warm days of this unexpectedly beautiful autumn.
We’ve had temperatures up in the mid to high twenties (that’s about 75 degrees Fahrenheit) so I’ve been turning to salad lunches and suppers quite regularly. The warmer weather has meant a longer growing season here in Europe so our favourite fruits are hanging around for a bit longer this year.
The thing that turns this salad into a hearty main dish is of course the proscuitto. You can use Parma Ham if you prefer as proscuitto and Parma Ham are essentially the same thing – although true connoisseurs might be cross with me for saying that. The main difference is that while proscuitto can be made anywhere, true Parma Ham can be made only in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. It also has to be certified by the Consorzio de Prosciutto di Parma. It’s a bit like champagne – the real stuff can only come from the Champagne region in France. Anything else is actually just sparkling wine made in the methode champenoise – or in the method of Champagne – no matter what it might say on the label.
But back to the salad. I like to use a mixture of leaves for this, some sweet and some a bit more tangy. Nectarines can be used in place of peaches, although there is no need to peel them. When it comes to the cheese, I love the contrast of freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano against the sweet fruit and salty proscuitto but any hard sharp Italian style cheese would work just fine. I shave hard cheeses with my vegetable peeler. It’s easy and it gives the pieces a bit of curl.
This salad makes an elegant midweek supper. You can always serve some warm bread or rolls alongside for those with extra hearty appetites. Smaller servings would be lovely as a light and easy dinner party starter .
A quick tip – to peel peaches easily simply put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over top. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes and then (carefully!) drain the water away. The skins should then simply slip off when encouraged a bit with the tip of a knife.
This salad is lovely with a glass of something chilled and fruity – Sauvignon Blanc is my favourite. It makes a lovely dinner à deux or double or triple the recipe and invite friends to a midweek supper party.
- 2 cups salad leaves of your choice, washed and torn into bite size pieces
- a handful of cherry tomatoes, multi-coloured if possible
- 2 peaches or nectarines
- 6 slices of proscuitto
- ¼ cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons walnut oil (or use mild olive oil)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 generous teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mix all the dressing ingredients except the salt and pepper together in a shaker or clean jam jar and shake together until well blended.
- Taste the dressing for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired. Shake again.
- Slice the cherry tomatoes in half.
- Peel and slice the peaches or slice the nectarines.
- Place the salad leaves and tomatoes in a bowl and toss with most of the dressing. Reserve a little bit of dressing for garnish.
- Divide the salad between two plates.
- Put three slices of proscuitto on each serving.
- Place half the peach slices on top of each salad.
- Drizzle with the remaining dressing.
- Garnish with the Parmigiano Reggiano shavings.
If you enjoyed this you may enjoy my End of Summer Salads post