The weather may not exactly be cooperating, but I'm feeling in a spring mood already. This dish is just the kind of thing to get me excited to the coming bounty. Green vegetables are one of the first crops to peak as the warmer weather rolls around, and this light salad is a perfect way to celebrate. Crisp asparagus, snow peas and green beans bring a nice fresh flavour, and the Seranno ham & Louis D'Or cheese add a nice richness to the dish.
You could serve this salad cold, or even room temperature, but I like it best served just a little warm. After a quick flash in a pan with some good olive oil, the green vegetable take on the perfect tender/crisp texture and the warmth from the greens is just enough to soften the ham and melt the cheese a little bit. A touch of warmth also wakens up all the flavours, especially in the ham & cheese.
For the dressing I use just olive oil and vinegar, so it's important that you use good quality ones. When buying olive oil, it's good to pick up two different kinds: one cheaper one to use for cooking and one smaller bottle of high-end olive oil for garnishing dishes. In the restaurant we refer to our premium oils as "finishing oils" because we only use the expensive stuff to pour over finished dishes. I used a great olive oil from Crete that my brother gave me. You can use any kind you like. There are lots of great olive oils out there to discover.
The ham that I used is Serrano, which is a Spanish ham, very similar to prosciutto. I like it's rich flavour, but you could just as easily use Italian prosciutto here. For the cheese I chose Louis D'Or from Quebec. It's a strong, firm cheese, similar to Gruyere.
Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 10 minutes. Serves 4.
300g thinly sliced Serrano ham
300g Lois D'Or or Gruyere cheese
1 bunch asparagus
100g snow peas
100g green beans
1 cup cipollini oinons, peeled & quartered
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
100ml extra virgin olive oil
50 ml red wine vinegar
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. prepare a large bowl of ice water for chilling the vegetables. Blanch the vegetable for until just tender, about one minute. Transfer the blanched vegetables to the ice water to stop the cooking. All 3 vegetables should take about the same amount of time to cook, but it is best to do each one individually, allowing the water to come back to a boil each time.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and sautee the onions until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the green vegetables and saute until just warmed through, about 2 minutes. Season with red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.
3. Divide the vegetables among 4 plates. Garnish with Serrano ham. Use a vegetable peeler to grate thin slices of cheese over the salad. Garnish with green onions.