As mentioned in previous posts, I am a huge fan of burrata cheese. And, I should include here, for the true sake of this post, that I am also addicted to great prosciutto, toasted pine nuts, hearts of palm, butter lettuce, and amazing extra virgin olive oil, not to mention chives and shallots.
But I had never tried them all together.
I was recently talking with my sister, Meag, about our trip to Italy a few years back, where we literally were ordering plates of thinly sliced prosciutto accompanied usually by a huge chunk of the most lusciously-soft mozzarella cheese known as burrata. It was so decadently amazing - a drizzle of local extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt - always washed down with a few glasses of pinot grigio. I would crave this for lunch, and Meag would always order a salad. We would combine both plates together and graciously indulge in every lovely bite.
Yeah, by the time this pic was taken at a restaurant in Florence, we had already devoured the cheese.
But, I have these amazingly vivid images of sitting on a piazza in Rome and Florence, the sun heating up the rather chilly February air, sipping some amazing wine and delighting in the simplicity of life, and the simplicity of really good quality prosciutto paired with yummy burrata. I had to "try" to recreate something simple yet yummy for the Summer months, and created this salad.
I have now made this salad about 17 times for many different people in the last month, to which a great friend emailed me to ask how to recreate it (Barb, that's you!) , and everyone raves that this is a great combination of flavors and textures.
As a chef, I eyeball everything, so there are not distinct amounts with this recipe, but just try to wing it yourself.
* fresh chives, sliced into 1/2" pieces
* shallot, minced
* really good extra virgin olive oil (if you can ever get a hold of some from Chaffin Orchards I suggest using) for "dressing" and also drizzle at the end
* fresh lemon juice
* butter lettuce mix (bagged) or other baby lettuces
* hearts of palm, drained, sliced thinly
* toasted pine nuts
* fresh burrata cheese
* thinly sliced prosciutto
* sel gris (or sea salt) and cracked black pepper
This pic is missing the shallots and hearts of palm, but you get the bigger picture...and @Chaffin Orchards, I know that isn't your evoo, but I got my hands on your product after this pic was taken!
First, I like to infuse the "dressing/vinaigrette" to build flavor for the salad; slice the chives and shallots and add to a bowl; add extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice to taste (you want a good balance of acid to oil), season with salt and pepper and let stand for 20 minutes.
Taste the mixture to make sure you have the right balance; for me, it is a bright lemony-subtle oniony flavor that will perfume the lettuce when added. You will find, depending on the amount of lettuce leaves, that you will have to add more evoo and/or lemon juice, but just find the right balance for yourself.
Meanwhile, slice up the hearts of palm:
While all of this is happening, preheat the oven to 350F. Lay slices of prosciutto on a parchment or foil lined cookie sheet and bake 'til crisp, about 10 minutes....
If you have never crisped up prosciutto like this before, you are totally missing out. Crumble it on salads, eggs for breakfast, or just snack it up with some cheese around 5 o'clock. In this case, it makes a salty, pork-loving highlight to one of my favorite new salads.
So all is sliced, toasted, marinated - time to plate.
Honestly, every one I have made this for RAVES about the combination of flavors. The saltiness of the prosciutto is highlighted by the creaminess of the burrata, and the offset of the acidic "vinagrette" with the hint of shallots and chives just works so well together. This is a great "al fresco" salad to enjoy throughout the whole warm Summer months, whether an appetizer size or as an entree.
And though I won't find myself in a crowded piazza anytime soon, I can always bring the memories of a good times past, to include great food and wine, to my patio this Summer. Enjoy and Cheers!