Potatoes garnish arugula-prosciutto salad

Entertaining

Australian recipe, with proportions altered, sparks idea for tasty new dish

Sunday Gourmet

April 11, 2004|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Tribune Media Services

I am a bona fide food magazine junkie. Not only do I enjoy a number of American monthlies, but I'm also crazy about foreign publications. I read French culinary magazines during stays in France, and lately have been purchasing English and Australian issues at local bookstores. I'm always on the lookout for new trends in food and entertaining that can be turned into ideas for this column or for new recipes.

My curiosity usually pays off, as it did a few weeks ago. While leafing through an Australian glossy, I spotted a potato salad with arugula and pancetta accents. I loved this trio of ingredients, but because so many people are watching their carb intake (my spouse is one of them), I immediately thought of rearranging this combination using the potatoes in a secondary, instead of primary role. I envisioned a plate of dark green arugula with potato wedges as a garnish. I decided to replace the pancetta with sauteed prosciutto strips and to add quartered hard-cooked eggs and sliced red onion for color and texture.

I blanched small red skin potatoes, then sliced and tossed them in a mustard vinaigrette. The eggs were boiled and quartered, and the julienned prosciutto quickly sauteed until crisp. These preparations were carried out several hours ahead so that at serving time I had only to toss the arugula and onions in the remaining dressing, mound the mixture on plates and add the garnishes.

I hadn't realized that this delicious salad would be so versatile. It anchored a light kitchen lunch for friends one day. Purchased crusty peasant bread was the only accompaniment, while cheese and fruit were all that were needed for dessert. You can use the salad as a first course to begin a dinner or mound it on a large platter to offer as part of a buffet.

You can bet I'll be back in the bookstores soon, flipping through food magazines from around the globe.

Arugula Salad With Potatoes and Prosciutto

Makes 6 servings

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoons or more additional, if needed, divided

1 pound small red skin potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in 1/4 -inch-wide julienne strips, 4 to 5 inches long

6 large eggs

1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly

12 ounces arugula (see note)

To make the dressing, whisk together vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small, nonreactive bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil. (Dressing can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using.)

For salad, place potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover by 3 inches. Bring water to a boil over high heat and cook potatoes until tender when pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, quarter potatoes and place in a shallow dish such as a pie plate. Season potatoes generously with salt and pepper and toss gently with 3 tablespoons of the dressing.

Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and add enough water to cover by about an inch. Bring water to a boil over medium high heat, lower heat and simmer gently, about 12 minutes. Drain and plunge eggs into cold water. When cool, remove from water and remove shells. Quarter eggs lengthwise and place on a plate.

Place 1 tablespoon of remaining olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add prosciutto strips. Stir and cook, adding more olive oil if needed, until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. (The potatoes, eggs and prosciutto can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Cool each and leave at cool room temperature.)

To assemble salad, place arugula and red onion in a mixing bowl and toss with 1/2 cup of the dressing. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Divide salad evenly and mound on six salad plates. Garnish each serving with potato wedges and egg quarters. Drizzle remaining dressing over egg wedges on each plate. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of prosciutto.

Note: If arugula -- a slightly bitter green with a peppery taste -- is not available, you can substitute flat leaf spinach.

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