I first published this Peach Proscuitto and Parmesan Salad recipe three years ago, during a British autumn unlike any I have known in the over twenty-five years I have lived in the UK. It reminded me 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 wetter yet winter to come. That autumn was full of hope and promise and everyone was lighter of mood and step for it. I’m fervently hoping for something similar this year!
Whatever the weather, my Peach Proscuitto and Parmesan Salad is a wonderful late summer salad, especially if you can find really fresh, ripe and juicy peaches.
Peach Proscuitto and Parmesan Salad
The thing makes Peach Proscuitto and Parmesan Salad heartier 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 in most cases, it still tastes pretty darn good!
But back to this tasty salad! I like to use a mixture of leaves, some sweet and some a bit more tangy. Nectarines can be used in place of peaches, although there is no need to peel them. If you are using peaches, here’s a quick tip to make peeling them easier. Put the peaches in a bowl and pour boiling water over top. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes and then, being careful not to burn yourself, drain the water away. The peach skins should then simply slip off when carefully encouraged a bit with the tip of a knife.
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.
Peach Proscuitto and Parmesan Salad makes an elegant midweek supper. 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.
This salad is lovely with a glass of something chilled and fruity – Sauvignon Blanc is my favourite. An easy dinner for two, you can always double or triple the recipe and invite friends to an almost effortless midweek supper party.
Peach Proscuitto and Parmesan Salad
- 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.