In the US, I love to shop farmers markets for the freshest produce, usually picked when ripe, so much tastier than fruit (and veggies) trucked across the country. Look for apricots in the next few weeks—May is the official start of the season in the northern hemisphere. As spring turns to summer, ripe peaches or nectarines are delicious replacements for the apricots in this visually stunning salad. Feel free to change the fruit to whatever favorites of yours are available seasonally where you live.
For the vinaigrette:
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white-wine or sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
- 6 ounces baby arugula
- 4 ripe apricots, preferably freestone
- 8 ounces burrata or fresh buffalo mozzarella
- 16 very thin slices prosciutto
- Small fresh basil leaves
- Coarsely ground pink peppercorns
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To compose the salad, arrange a bed of arugula on a platter, or divide among four plates. Pit the apricots and slice into wedges, leaving the skin on for extra fiber. Drain the cheese and tear into bite-size chunks. If using burrata, tear directly over the platter or plates to catch any cream. Arrange the fruit, cheese, and prosciutto on the arugula. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, sprinkle with the basil and crushed peppercorns, and serve immediately.
Yields 4 servings.
Chef Katie Button, who trained with Spanish celebrity chef Ferran Adrià at his internationally acclaimed restaurant elBulli, later opened Cúrate Bar de Tapas in my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. This original recipe featured rabbit, which is more popular in Spain than it is in the US. We like it made with chicken.
- 1/4 cup kosher salt, plus more
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 7 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 pounds chicken leg quarters
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 dried New Mexican chile, stemmed and seeded
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups white wine
Make the brine: In a small saucepan, combine the 1/4 cup salt with the brown sugar, peppercorns, 2 garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves, and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in 2 cups of cold water, and let the mixture cool. Pour the brine into a large resealable plastic bag, add the chicken pieces, and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Heat the oven to 350°F. In a blender, blend the 5 remaining garlic cloves and bay leaf with the wine, vinegar, pimentón, cumin, chile, and 2 1/2 cups water until smooth. Drain the chicken pieces, pat dry with paper towels, and discard the brine.
In an 8-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and cook, turning once, until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Pour in the blended wine and spices and bring to a boil. Cover, place in the oven, and cook until the chicken is tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pan to a rack, lift the chicken from the pan, and transfer it to a serving platter.
Place the pan over high heat and boil the braising liquid until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and serve while hot.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from Saveur, February 2016
Creamy beans, crispy prosciutto, and tangy gorgonzola cheese—what could make a more satisfying and delicious bruschetta topping? But if you want to skip the bread, enjoy this as a side dish with lamb or another roasted meat.
- 12 thin slices prosciutto (about 6 ounces)
- 1 baguette cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary needles
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
- Two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and well rinsed
- 3 ounces gorgonzola dolce or another mild blue cheese
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the prosciutto on it in a single layer (use two baking sheets if necessary). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the prosciutto has changed color slightly and is crisp (it will continue to crisp as it cools). Transfer to a cooling rack and set aside. Toast the bread while the oven is hot (you can do this while the prosciutto bakes if your oven is large enough).
In the meantime, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the rosemary, garlic, and hot pepper flakes (if using them), and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until the garlic softens but does not brown. Stir in the beans, mashing them roughly with the back of a spoon. Stir in the cheese and cook until it melts. Add the lemon juice, and then season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, spread the bean and cheese mixture on the toasted bread. Drizzle with more olive oil, and then crumble prosciutto on top.
Yields 4 to 6 servings.