5.22.2011

Salad Days

Unlike Cleopatra's lament in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra - "... my salad days, when I was green in judgment, cold in blood..." - my judgment is clear and my blood is warm. Summer temperatures have arrived in the Tucson desert, and it is time for cold meals that do not weigh you down, yet are flavorful and satisfying.

Remember that fennel bulb I used last week with the pasta? Well, lo and behold, I bought two that day and there was one leftover in the fridge. Pair that with the carrots that my friend Laura gave me from her Community Supported Agriculture CSA (look for one in your area!), some Prosciutto di Parma and a lemon, and you have one of Mark's and my favorite salads of all time.

The original recipe came from Saveur Magazine and acalled for bresaola, but we have toyed with the recipe and have made it our own. To us, it signals the start of summer - the time when you sit back with a nicely chilled, crisp Vernaccia di San Gimignano, this salad and a good book - and happiness just happens.



It really helps to have a mandoline for slicing the fennel bulbs paper thin. Contrary to that, a vegetable peeler works best for the carrots. Always use authentic Prosciutto di Parma - American knock-offs will not do. When zesting the lemon, I use the course blade of a microplane. If it is too finely zested, you lose the texture and the small bursts of flavor in the salad. Finally, this is another case for using the best flavored extra virgin olive oil you can find - Italian, Greek, Spanish, American or what have you; it needs to have great flavor on its own.

While writing this on a sunny Sunday afternoon, both my salad and my wine disappeared. Now where did they go...?

Buon appetito!

- David

Fennel, Carrot and Prosciutto Salad

2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and fronds reserved
4 large carrots, peeled
8 paper-thin slices Prosciutto di Parma
2 lemons
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Using a mandoline, slice the fennel bulbs crosswise into paper-thin slices, and mound the slices in a large salad bowl or serving platter.

Using a vegetable peeler, make long papparadelle-like slices from the carrots and arrange them around the mound of fennel.

Tear the prosciutto slices into small, bite-size pieces and mound on top of the fennel slices.

Wash and trim reserved fennel fronds. Sprinkle them over the salad and then zest both lemons over top.

Juice the lemons and remove any seeds; drizzle juice over top of salad followed by the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and liberally with pepper, and toss at the table.

Alternately, toss the salad and divide among 4 plates.

Makes 4 main course portions, or 8 for a salad course.


4 comments:

  1. I know that salad...and I LOVE it! We won't wait for summer temps to make it here in New England, though, because I am wondering, as I write in my flannel clothes, if they shall ever return! Thanks for another inspiring post--even at 4:00 a.m., after a long drive home from Princeton!

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  2. Susan,
    As I posted, I was thinking about how many people we have told about this salad and how much everybody has enjoyed it. Glad you will be making it even though 'tis cold! Sorry to hear flannels are still necessary, but I promise that soon you will be wishing for air conditioning!
    David

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  3. We are making this fabulous salad yet again!

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  4. Ahhhh.... The perfect summer salad! I hope your weather in New Hampshire matches the salad! Hugs, David

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