This is the 2nd course in a 4 course meal, designed to be a springboard for your special occasion. See the first course here.
Arugula and Prosciutto are not new ingredients on this blog. I use them often because they have good flavor, and aren’t really that expensive. Sure, if you look at the “per pound” price of prosciutto, it seems ridiculous. But typically each person has one or two thin slices, so you’ll only be spending around $2 on something really special (assuming you’re cooking for two, like we are in this meal).
Full disclosure time. A lot of things I cook are quite boring. Chicken thighs with curry powder; pork chops with salt and pepper; ground beef with whatever seasonings on top of whatever. That’s reality. I cook dinner at our house almost every night, but I only blog 1-2 times a week. That leaves 5-6 meals per week that are completely boring, thrown together in a rush and not even worth talking about. They’re meant to fill bellies, nourish bodies, and taste good enough that a 3 year old will eat them. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about, because that’s most likely your reality as well. And because that’s your reality, why not make things special when you can? Trust me, you’ve earned it.
As mentioned in Tuesday’s post, this salad was Jules’ favorite course in the meal, and it surprised me at how well it all worked. I say it surprised me because I’ve never made anything like this salad before. I’ve never really had anything like this salad before. This salad, and the entire 4 course meal, was born from a good two hours spent with my nose in The Flavor Bible, researching, pairing and cross-referencing flavors. Yes, I’ve eaten each of these ingredients in the past, but it’s the combination of flavors that made it new to me. And I hope you enjoy it, as well.
Here’s what you need:
• 2 handfuls of fresh arugula
• 4 thin slices of prosciutto
• 1 Bosc pear
• crumbled gorgonzola cheese
• 1 lemon
• 2 tsp fruity extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 pinch of garlic powder
• 1-2 pinches of gray sea salt or kosher salt
• 2 grinds fresh-cracked black pepper
The only cooking you need to do for this salad is the prosciutto. You can eat prosciutto as it is, but with this salad we almost want it to act like bacon, giving the dish a little crunch. But we don’t want it looking like a shriveled piece of bacon, so we’ll put a little more effort into it. It’s the extra effort that makes it special.
Preheat the oven to 375. While the oven is heating, use 2 pieces of prosciutto to almost make a flower shape (2 pieces each flower, 2 flowers total). Do this on a baking sheet, so you can just put it right into the oven. It may take a little coaxing to get the pieces to stand up, but you can do it, I promise. Once you have them standing on their own, carefully slide the pan into the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until crisp. Here is the look you’re going for:
Once baked, let them cool for a few minutes then carefully scrape them from the baking sheet and set in the center of a plate. That’s the “hard” part.
Next, prepare the pear by cutting six 1/8 inch rings out of the thickest part of the pear. You’ll have a cool star shape in the middle of your slices, and there will be seeds there. Remove the seeds and discard them. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze some of the juice over the pear slices, making sure they’re coated evenly. This not only adds a bright flavor, but also keeps the pear from turning brown before you serve it.
Toss the arugula, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Assemble the salad around the prosciutto crisp and top the arugula with some crumbled gorgonzola, like so:
It may seem simple, but the best dishes often are. If you feel like you aren’t a gorgonzola fan, I encourage you to try it anyway. It’s a very creamy blue cheese, not as harsh as some blues can be, and is divine in tandem with the pear and prosciutto. Like I said, it was my first time tasting this combination, and it’s a definite winner.
Best of all, the lightness of this salad leaves plenty of room for our main course and dessert. Both of which I can’t wait to share with you next week, as well as a detailed cooking schedule for pulling it all off. Stay tuned, friends, and we’ll see ya back here tomorrow for Jules’ painting this week. It’s my favorite thus far.
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