Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Insalata Rustica with Roasted Grapes

close up of roasted grapes
I really enjoyed this salad, but for me, the best part was the discovery of roasted grapes. I'd never made them before and was surprised at how roasting transformed the grapes from a kids' snack to something so much more sophisticated. They're still sweet, but slightly savory at the same time. The texture is soft and the grapes are still juicy enough to cause a delightful mini explosion in your mouth. Big fan.

Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 oz. (1/8” thick) slices prosciutto, chopped
1 1/2 cups stemmed seedless red grapes
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
10 cups (loosely packed) greens (such as frisée, arugula, and torn radicchio)
2 bosc pears, cored (1 cut into matchstick-size pieces, 1 thinly sliced)
aged balsamic vinegar (for drizzling)
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 oz. pecorino romano cheese (1/8” thick rectangular slices), 
  each cut on diagonal into triangles

1.      Preheat oven to 350° F.
2.      Whisk 1/2 cup oil and lemon juice in small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
3.      Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto to skillet and sauté until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer crisp prosciutto to paper towels to drain.
4.      Toss grapes with 1 tablespoon oil on rimmed baking sheet. Roast until grapes begin to shrivel, about 15 minutes. Cool grapes on baking sheet.
5.      Place cherries in small bowl. Add enough hot water to cover cherries by 1 inch. Let cherries soak in bowl 15 minutes to soften. Drain.

DO AHEAD: Dressing, prosciutto, grapes, and cherries can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
6.      Mix greens, matchstick-size pear pieces, dressing, 2/3 of prosciutto, grapes, and cherries in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
7.      Divide salad among plates. Garnish with pear slices, drizzle with vinegar, and sprinkle with pine nuts and remaining prosciutto. Garnish with cheese.

from Trattoria Stefano in Sheboygan, WI

raw grapes, oiled
soaked, drained dried cherries
proscuitto cooking
prosciutto cooked
insalata rustica
I don't speak Italian, but I assume that means "rustic salad"

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