Salads are one of those things my husband can usually take or leave. So I've made it my personal challenge to occasionally present him with an unusual salad that I hope will dazzle him into loving salad as much as I do. OK, maybe dazzle is too strong a word, but I do enjoy making unusual salads to complement our meals. Last weekend, I got a couple of steaks for dinner and was making simple potato pancakes. To add some flare (and vegetation) to our carnivorous feast, I chose Curtis Stone's Salad of Crispy Prosciutto, Baby Beets and Field Mushrooms from his book, Cooking with Curtis. The book is divided by season and each section features a few ingredients. The prosciutto section definitely caught my attention. The gorgeous crispy slice also caught my husband's attention: mission accomplished!
This is a great accompaniment to a simple meal. It went great with our grilled steaks and would go equally well with another grilled meat or fish. It's hearty and packed with flavor: sweet beets, salty prosciutto, earthy mushrooms, and a little tang from some sherry vinegar. My modified version follows... (If you can;t find baby beets like, me, use a few small ones and just cut them before serving. Just know that your roasting time will be a little longer...)
Salad of Crispy Prosciutto, Baby Beets and Field Mushrooms
2 bunches baby beets or 4 small beets
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices prosciutto
2 portabello mushroom caps, each cut into 6 strips
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
1 shallot, finely diced
bunch of baby arugula
Preheat oven to 350F. Lay the beets on a roastingtray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in hot oven for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and keep warm. (If using larger beets, peel the skins off the roasted beets once they've cooled a bit.)
Place the prosciutto in a large non-stick rying pan and allow it to go crispy. Once crispy, turn it over and remove it from the pan. Leave to cool until required. Using the same pan, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook in the excess fat from the prosciutto for 2-3 minutes. (You may need to add a little extra butter or olive oil.)
Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Add the shallot to the pan and cook for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the sherry vinegar and olive oil. Pour the dressing over the arugual and toss gently. Arrange the arugula, beets and mushrooms on 4 plates. Top each with a piece of crispy prosciutto.