With all of the rich, heavy food we tend to eat over the holiday season, I always start to crave salads or something green and light! I guess it is the body’s attempt to find some balance, thankfully. Here is a salad I was craving the other day. I made it a few years ago as a first course and it was so delicious, that I actually remember it years later! The most stunning thing about the salad is the roasted grapes. I had never heard of roasting grapes before, but what a revolution! The roasting brings the forward the sweetness so much so that the grapes literally burst with it – a little like ice wine contained within the skin of a grape! The other ingredients all balance the sweetness of the grapes: the prosciutto brings a lovely saltiness; the tart cherries lend a tang and some chewiness; the pears are fresh and the walnuts are rich and crunchy. All work together to create a very memorable salad! I found the recipe in a Bon Appétit magazine a number of years ago and have tweaked it. The original recipe called for Pecorino Romano cheese which adds yet another dimension to the salad. I prefer a nice creamy cheese, such as Cambozola pictured here, but you may prefer a bolder one such as the Pecorino Romano. This salad would make a nice side to the French Canadian Tourtière I posted last week. I hope you enjoy it!
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into pieces 3 inch long
1 ½ cups seedless red grapes
½ cup dried tart cherries
10 cups salad greens, such as arugula, frisée, or baby romaine
2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into matchstick-size pieces
½ cup walnuts, toasted
4 ounces of your favourite sharp cheese, thinly sliced (I used Cambozola)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup sherry wine vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss grapes with ½ tablespoon olive oil and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast until the grapes begin to shrivel, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and sauté until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Place cherries in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Soak for about 15 minutes until the cherries are soft. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Whisk together the ingredients for the salad dressing and put aside until serving time.
To assemble salad, toss greens with the grapes, cherries and pears. Divide among plates. Drizzle with some salad dressing. Garnish with pieces of prosciutto, walnuts and a piece of cheese.
This salad can be eaten as a meal with some hearty bread or as a side dish.