Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Insalata Rustica

We got frisee last week in our box for the very first time ever. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I loved the way it looked--all curly. After consulting my three library cookbooks (more on those another time!), I turned to epicurious. Once again, epicurious rose to the challenge!

The pairing for this was wonderful--the sweet of the grapes and tart cherries offset the peppery, slightly bitter greens. I made it twice this past week, each time with a slightly different assortment of toppings for the salad. I would stick with the roasted grapes, tart cherries, and Parmesan every time. The rest I think you can rotate in and out depending on what you have on hand in your pantry. These proportions will serve 4 adults easily.

Insalata Rustica
adapted from Bon Appetit
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 oz thinly slice prosciutto, cut into 1/2" squares (opt)
1 c stemmed, seedless grapes
1/2 c dried tart cherries
5 c loosely packed frisee and arugula (or radicchio)
1 Bosc pair, cored, 1/2 cut into matchsticks, the other 1/2 thinly sliced (opt)
1/4 c toasted pine nuts (opt)
thinly sliced Parmesan cheese (no bigger than 1" x 1" squares)

1/2 c very good extra virgin olive oil
3 T fresh lemon juice

Toss grapes with 1 T olive oil on rimmed cookie sheet. Roast in preheated 350 degrees oven until grapes begin to shrivel, 15 - 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheet. While grapes are roasting, place dried tart cherries in a small bowl. Add enough hot water to cover cherries by 1 inch. Let cherries soak for 15 minutes to soften. Drain. Meanwhile, heat 1 T olive oil in lg skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto, a little at a time so it doesn't clump together and saute until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. (Grapes, cherries, and prosciutto can be made up to 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature until ready to use).

To make dressing, shake 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil with lemon juice in a small jar to emulsify. Set aside. Mix greens, matchstick-size pears, prosciutto, grapes, parmesan, and cherries in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with pear slices and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve dressing on the side (if you prefer you can mix dressing in when you combine the greens. I prefer to let people add their own dressing).

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