Yes, the cold weather is swooshing upon us and the crests of the majestic Sierra are taking on their various shades of white but that is no reason why you still can't enjoy a salad! True, salads are usually thought of as a Spring and Summer staple but the fact is, salads also make an incredible dinner on their own when paired with some freshly baked bread and a bottle of wine.
One of the great eating regions of Italy is Tuscany. Tuscan food prides itself on freshness and brilliant combinations of flavors. Whether you are dining in the middle of a vineyard or have a little table outside a cafe, once you've tried the tastes of Tuscany you are hooked.
This salad has all the flavors of Tuscany and like many salads, it is very easy to prepare at home. As with most salads, there is no real recipes, at least not where amounts are concerned. What you do want to do, however, is make sure the ingredients are as fresh and authentic as possible.
The Tuscan Prosciutto Salad basically consists of four major food elements. You'll want fresh lettuce (preferably a good leaf lettuce such as Romaine or Red Leaf). You don't want to use the "ribs" of the lettuce, just the leaves. Next you want some fresh tomatoes. In Tuscany one of the most popular are Roma tomatoes. They are more fleshy and with less juice. Then there is some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Freshly grated does not mean it comes from Kraft! The final element is the star of the dish, Prosciutto!
Prosciutto is a cured ham and if authentic, comes from Parma, Italy. It should always be sliced razor thin. You can find decent Prosciutto in markets that have a deli section. It isn't cheap but a little goes a long way.
As far as dressing are concerned, you want only a basic Tuscan dressing. The dressing is meant to bring out the fresh flavors of the salad. To make a true Tuscan Dressing, you want to whisk together some olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced fresh Italian herbs, finely minced garlic and some grated Parmesan cheese. If you want the dressing to have a slight "creamy" aura to it, whisk in a little Dijon mustard.
So, forget about the cold weather, the falling snow, the gloomy skies and the dead leaves clogging your drains! Enjoy the season with a true and healthy taste of Tuscany!
The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in its third printing and available worldwide, including the official website for Downton Abbey!