While it might seem like the excitement of the growing season is waning, the reality is a new wave of fruits and vegetables are coming into their prime. Aside from all kinds of pumpkin and squash varieties, this is also the season of crisp greens, cabbages, shallots, apples, pomegranates and pears, just to name a few. I try to incorporate as many as I can into this harvest salad. But there are so many possibilities available for you to make this your own.
You could easily swap out the apple cider vinegar for a white wine, sherry or Champagne variety. If you want to give it a distinctive fall flavor, instead of honey you could use maple syrup. For the greens, I like to use a mix: My go-to salad combination is butter lettuce (mild, sweet and light), arugula (peppery) and radicchio (bitter) because these are my favorite flavors and textures. These lettuce varieties play well with the sweetness from the fruit and nuttiness of the Parmesan cheese. That being said, if radicchio is too bitter for you, adding thin slices of red or green cabbage would be a lovely alternative. If you don’t love the peppery bite of arugula, try spinach or mixed greens. And if you can’t find butter lettuce, romaine would be a perfect substitution.
When it comes to preparing savory foods, we have the luxury of not being bound to technical requirements often found in sweets and pastry. This recipe is a starting point. If you follow it well, then I hope it is with the full understanding that any rules that seem to appear are meant to be broken. As you follow what is available to you and what your instinctual and wise taste buds tell you, the very best version of this harvest salad will surely be the result.
Time time: 30 minutes; makes: 6 servings
For the vinaigrette:
1 good sized shallot, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
For the salad:
6 slices of speck or prosciutto
½ cup marcona almonds or piñon nuts
1 pomegranate, seeded
8 ounces butter lettuce
8 ounces arugula or other leafy green
1 small head of radicchio or cabbage, sliced (around 3 cups)
1 large apple, cut into matchsticks or slices
½ cup fresh Parmesan shavings
Preparation: Make the vinaigrette: In a jar or small bowl, stir together the shallot, mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper. Reserve until ready to serve the salad.
When ready to serve the salad, place a piece of speck or prosciutto on each plate. Around the perimeter of the plate, sprinkle marcona almonds and pomegranate seeds. In a large bowl, add the butter lettuce, arugula and radicchio. Spoon just enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves. Give it a taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Distribute the greens in the center of each salad plate. Top each salad with apple and Parmesan shavings. Spoon a small drizzle of dressing over the top of each salad.