Baby Arugula Salad with Prosciutto, Shaved Parmesan and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Arugula Prosciutto and Parmesan Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Baby Arugula salad with shaved Parmesan, Prosciutto and a simple Balsamic Vinaigrette that stays emulsified for days

This is my absolute favourite salad to make. I enjoy other salads that are more difficult to put together but I very seldom make them at home – I leave that for restaurants. This salad is so simple and so satisfying that I find that it is enough for a meal for two.

You needn’t worry about getting Prosciutto di Parma from the gourmet deli, although for the salad in the picture I did use the good stuff from Vincenzo’s. I usually make this with the pre-sliced, packaged prosciutto from the deli section at the grocery store. Getting Parmigiano-Reggiano wedges is an absolute must. Again, you needn’t make a special trip to the gourmet store, the vacuum packed Parmigiano-Reggiano at the grocery store works just fine. What would ruin this salad to the point of it being inedible would be to sprinkle pre-grated parmesan cheese over the salad. Yes, that is the food snob in me speaking but just trust me on this.

The vinaigrette for this is also very simple. It is just balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. What is different about the dressing is that it stays emulsified for days and it is all in the technique. The trick is to whisk the mustard into the vinegar with the salt and pepper and then slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly. It is like you are making a mayonnaise but it is slightly more forgiving than mayo. I am including exact measurements for the oil and vinegar in this recipe because it covers the arugula with just the right amount.

Whisk the mustard into the vinegar until it is completely mixed in. Then slowly add the olive oil, dribble by dribble, whisking constantly until it is all combined. What you get is a dressing that stays emulsified for days.

I chose to include a photo with the mustard on the whisk because I wanted to show what type of whisk I use to make this. I strongly recommend a very small whisk like this to avoid frustration when making this dressing if you are trying to get it to stay emulsified. If you only have a regular size whisk then just make a larger amount and use a bowl that will allow you to whisk vigorously.

This little whisk is a Nigella Lawson brand tool and it is something I bought with a gift card I received as a wedding gift. When we got married over 7 years ago we were a pair of broke-ass, newlyweds living in dingy a basement apartment (with a lovely landlady who lived upstairs).  Doing things like buying a magazine at the time was an unthinkable luxury but I read them for free because I was working at Chapters (still my favourite store). Most of the Nigella Lawson line of kitchenware was completely out of my price range, even with a gift card, but I could buy this little whisk. Every time I use it, it brings me back to that time in our lives and it reminds me to go have a read through one of Nigella’s books. Oh, how I love her..

Nigella is my food hero the way that Julia Child is to many. I love her sloppiness, her overt greediness toward food and frankly, I love everything about her kitchen in the Nigella Bites series. I believe I was traumatized by the near complete lack of natural light in that basement apartment so now I am drawn to not only kitchens with lots of light, but white kitchens. If you watched any of Nigella’s cooking shows you will recall that she has a white kitchen with a wall of windows. Some time in the near future I will write a post extolling  Nigella and all she does.

Yields 2-4

Baby Arugula Salad with Prosciutto, Shaved Parmesan and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Baby Arugula Salad with Prosciutto, Shaved Parmesan Cheese and a Balsamic Vinaigrette that stays emulsified for days

10 minsPrep Time

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Ingredients

  • 1 five ounce package of pre-washed Baby Arugula
  • 4-6 slices prosciutto, torn into bite size pieces
  • 2 oz (approximately) Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (Parmesan), shaved
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix the balsamic vinegar with the salt, pepper and mustard until well combined using a small whisk.
  2. While whisking continuously, add the olive oil to the vinegar in small dribbles, making sure that each dribble of oil is emulsified with the vinegar before adding more oil.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the vinaigrette with the baby arugula until the arugula is coated pretty evenly.
  4. Tear the prosciutto into bite sized pieces and lay over top of dressed arugula.
  5. Using a vegetable peeler, shave as much Parmesan cheese onto the salad as you like. I use approximately 2 ounces.
  6. This serves 2 for a dinner salad or 4 for a generous side salad.
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