Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer of Salads

I live in the sweltering heat of the Southwestern desert climate. During the summers people dash from one air conditioned location to the next, risk second degree burns to touch the steering wheel of their car or buckle their seat belt, and spend as much time as possible floating in pools reminiscent of tepid baths just to cope with the oppressive heat of the summer months. With temperatures ranging from the high 90s to low 120s, the thought of standing over a hot stove or oven is often unbearable. I can admit there are days where snow cones or Popsicles truly sound like like ingenious and refreshing dinner solutions, but one can hardly live on ice, food coloring and sugar for long. I recently found myself avoiding the heat by wandering around one of my favorite air-conditioned stores and stumbled across a book on clearance for $4 that was entirely dedicated to salads, which looked like a great Summer project to keep our meals light, interesting, and free of blue food coloring.

I was flipping through the pages looking for a salad I could make with the ingredients we had on hand and decided on the recipe below. We didn't have a cantaloupe in the fridge, but we had just picked up a golden dewlicious melon, which has a similar texture.

Prosciutto with Melon & Asparagus

source: Salads: A Collection of Over 100 Essential Recipes

Ingredients

Salad

  • 8 oz asparagus spears (white or green)
  • 1 small melon (cantaloupe, honeydew, or similar)
  • 2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 5 1/2 oz mixed greens
  • 3/4 cup of mixed fresh raspberries and blueberries
  • A block of parmesan (you won't use the whole thing -- omit if you are following the paleo plan)

Dressing

  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T raspberry vinegar
  • 2 T orange juice
  • 1 t extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

  1. Trim asparagus, asparagus will naturally break where they should be trimmed -- grab a stalk and with the other hand grab the cut end and bend until it snaps off. You can also use a knife for a uniform trim. Cook in lightly salted boiling water over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain and plunge into cold water to prevent the asparagus from continuing to cook, and draining again. Set aside.
  2. Cut melon in half and scoop out seeds (for some reason I neglected to do this until after I cut the melon, which created more work, so be sure to scoop out the seeds before cutting). Cut in small wedges.
     
  3. Separate the prosciutto slices, cut in half, and wrap a slice around each of the melon wedges.
  4. Arrange the salad greens on a large serving platter and place the asparagus spears on top, then the prosciutto-wrapped melon wedges.
  5. Scatter the washed raspberry and blueberry mixture over the platter and top with Parmesan shavings.
  6. Place the vinegars, juice and oil in a screw-top jar and shake until blended. Pour over the salad and serve.

What I'd Change Next Time:

I had never had white asparagus before, and since it happened to be the same price as green, I decided to try something new. The color ended up being rather unappetizing and I will stick with green asparagus next time. Also, I was working with the ingredients we had on hand, and while the texture of the golden dewlicious was similar to cantaloupe, the flavor was more subtle and didn't quite pair with the richness of the prosciutto as well.

If you're interested:

White Asparagus -- What Makes it White