This recipe spins the classic Italian prosciutto-and-melon duo into an elegant summer salad. Cutting the cured ham into ribbons and heating it quickly in a skillet might make a traditionalist cringe, but I am completely enamored with the way doing so results in crisp, flavor-concentrated, smoky-salty bites, like an upscale version of bacon.
Those crisps become the finishing sprinkle for a composed salad made up of thin slices of juicy cantaloupe fanned out on a plate with a mound of peppery arugula leaves on top – or the other way around, with the greens below. The leaves are coated in a simple vinaigrette that has the lovely hint of sweetness that's inherent in an aged white balsamic vinegar. If you don't have that on hand, white wine vinegar with a touch of honey makes a fine substitute.
Despite its simplicity, the salad is complexly flavorful with sweet, peppery, salty, crisp and tender all on one satisfying plate.
Cantaloupe Salad With Arugula and Crispy Prosciutto
Despite its simplicity, this salad offers complex flavors. The dressing has a lovely hint of sweetness that is inherent in an aged white balsamic vinegar, but white wine vinegar with a touch of honey may be substituted.
2 ounces sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (or 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon honey)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
3 cups baby arugula
1/2 cantaloupe, halved, seeded, rind removed, and then very thinly sliced
Grease a medium nonstick skillet with cooking oil spray and place over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is crisped and browned. Let cool.
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place the arugula in a medium bowl. Add half the dressing and toss to coat.
To serve, fan the melon slices on a platter or individual plates. Drizzle the melon with the remaining dressing. Pile arugula in the center of the plate(s), Sprinkle with the crisped prosciutto, and more pepper, as needed. (Or you can build the salad by using the arugula as the base, topping with the fanned cantaloupe slices, drizzle the remaining dressing and then finish with the crisped prosciutto.) Serve right away.
Per serving: 120 calories, 5 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 290 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar
Yield: 4 servings.