It is exceedingly rare for us to have salad as an entree around here. For me, salad is usually an afterthought, something that I pour out of a bag and into a bowl as an easy side dish. I never eat it with enthusiasm, rather I power my way through it so I can feel like I've eaten a vegetable and done something healthy. But, as part of my commitment to introduce less meaty dishes into our repertoire, I decided to put an entree salad on the menu for this evening.
While we're still at the tail end of summer produce season, I wanted to try a recipe for a peach salad I'd spotted online just a couple weeks ago. Years ago, there was a seasonal peach salad on the menu at a restaurant that I frequented with my parents, that I ordered again and again of my own free will. I loved that salad, and was a little bit devastated when it went off the menu once peach season ended, but I've always remembered that combination of peaches, goat cheese, peppery greens, and a zippy vinaigrette.
I hoped that this salad would capture some of the magic of the one from my past that I remembered so fondly, and for the most part, it did. The mozzarella cheese was milder than goat cheese, but I enjoyed the creaminess and buttery notes it imparted. Plus, I felt that it paired well with the peaches, which was a pleasant surprise.
My only problem with this recipe was the process for crisping the prosciutto in the oven. I'm not sure if my prosciutto was sliced too thinly, but most of it ended up stuck to the pan I baked it on. I had to scrape off as much of it as I could with a spatula, netting me many miniscule shards of crispy meat, not unlike upscale bacon bits. The rest I had to soak off the pan with hot water, making the clean up situation less than ideal. I do feel like the salty, savory bits of meat drew the dish together, so I wouldn't omit them in the future, but I would consider trying a different brand of prosciutto to see if I had the same result.
I am a little bummed, however, that I did not discover this salad until the end of September. I'm going to have to wait many long months through Chicago's bitter winter until peaches come back into season and I can enjoy this meal once again. I suppose it will give me something else to look forward to, come summer...
Peach, Mozzarella, and Crispy Prosciutto Salad
adapted from Tyler Florrence
4 ripe peaches, pitted, and cut into wedges
8 thin slices of prosciutto
2 c. field green mix
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into bit size pieces
Preheat oven to 350.
1. On a baking sheet, lay the slices of prosciutto in a single layer. Bake until firm and golden, 15–20 minutes. The prosciutto may not be crisp in the oven, but will become crisp as it cools.
2. In the meantime, toss the peaches and greens together in a large bowl.
3. In a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar and oil, adding the oil in a slow stream to create an emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Toss the vegetables together with the dressing and arrange on a serving platter or on plates. Nestle the mozzarella amongst the ingredients, and top with the crisp prosciutto.