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This Pear and Prosciutto Salad with Vinaigrette recipe is an elegant seasonal salad and makes an ideal first course.
Sometimes it can be difficult to think of winter as a salad season. After all, salads are so often associated with the fresh new growth of springtime. But, in fact, you can easily find so many delicious ingredients at this time of year to turn into all kinds of refreshing salads that reflect the season.
Winter brings a generous harvest of hearty leaves for salads, including arugula, curly endive (also known by the French term frisee), radicchio, escarole, and various kinds of cabbages. All of these are characterized by robust, sometimes bitter flavors and substantial textures that seem to express more of the way you want a salad to be when the winds are blowing cold or the snow is falling.
Then, of course, there are all kinds of seasonal fruits that you can put into winter salads. Apples and pears are among the most obvious candidates, and both make excellent choices. So are citrus fruits, especially tangerines -- and their close cousins mandarins, Clementines, and Satsumas, as well as grapefruit and oranges. And remember that dried fruits and nuts further enhance salads when sprinkled in as garnishes.
And don't forget other treats you can add to winter salads. Cheeses are among my favorite selections, adding creamy richness to contrast with the robust greens, along with a hint of saltiness. And meats, especially those from the deli section, can elevate the satisfaction that any salad delivers.
Start thinking about combining all these categories I've mentioned, and you begin to realize how much variety there can be in winter salads. You can serve them for all sorts of occasions, from casual family dinners to the most elegant dinner parties.
This This Pear and Prosciutto Salad with Vinaigrette is one of my favorite winter salads and makes for an ideal first course for a holiday meal, whether Christmas dinner or a New Year's Eve gathering. It highlights fresh pears, at their peak right now with a wide range of varieties available, from yellow or red Bartletts to green or red Anjous, Comice to Bosc to Concorde pears. (You can also use slightly crispier Asian pears.) Complementing their sweet, juicy flavor are chunks of the cream-filled mozzarella known as burrata, wafer-thin slices of the velvety cured Italian ham known as prosciutto (substitute thin slices of any other ham you like, if you wish), and mounds of baby arugula leaves. A little bit of light dressing based on sweet, slightly spicy, almost syrupy late-harvest white wine ties all these flavors and textures together in perfect harmony.
Pear & Prosciutto Salad with Vinaigrette Recipe
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
Pear & Prosciutto Salad with Vinaigrette Ingredients
2 tablespoons sweet white late-harvest dessert wine such as ice wine (Eiswein)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, preferably aged
1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ripe but firm organic pears, halved, seeded, and cut lengthwise into slices 1/4 inch thick
1/2 pound burrata (cream-filled mozzarella) or fresh buffalo mozzarella, at room temperature, cut into 4 slices
4 thin slices of prosciutto
2 cups organic baby arugula leaves, about 1-1/2 ounces
Pear & Prosciutto Salad with Vinaigrette Recipe Instructions
In a small bowl, combine the wine, balsamic vinegar, and Champagne vinegar. Season lightly to taste with salt and pepper, stirring until the salt has dissolved. Whisking continuously, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until fully incorporated. Set this dressing aside.
With a small, sharp knife, carefully cut each pear lengthwise in half. Using the knife, a melon baller, or a sharp-edge teaspoon, carefully cut out the stems, cores, and seeds from each pear half. Then, use the knife to cut each half lengthwise into wedges about 1/4 inch thick.
Put the pear slices in a shallow dish and drizzle them with 1-1/2 tablespoons of the dressing. With clean fingers, gently toss the slices to coat them with the dressing, taking care not to break the slices.
Attractively arrange the pear slices on individual chilled serving plates, setting the empty shallow dish aside. Place a piece of burrata or buffalo mozzarella cheese in the middle of or alongside the pear slices on each plate. Lightly drizzle a little more dressing, a scant 1 teaspoon per serving, over the cheese and around the pears. Drape a slice of prosciutto partially over the cheese and pears on each plate.
In the shallow dish in which you dressed the pear slices, put the arugula and drizzle the leaves with the remaining dressing. Mound the arugula on top of each salad.
Pear & Prosciutto Winter Salad Recipe, Winter salad Recipe, Salads
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