Arugula Salad with Figs, Prosciutto, Walnuts, and Parmesan

A spoonful of jam in the dressing guarantees an arugula salad that is lively but not harsh.

Arugula Salad with Figs, Prosciutto, Walnuts, and Parmesan
SERVES 6 FAST
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Arugula has a lively, spicy bite, and so for a salad, it’s important to choose accompaniments that can stand up to its assertive character. We found that the sweet and salty notes of figs and prosciutto, both popular in Italian cuisine, paired well with peppery arugula, so we began by frying up thin slices of prosciutto to heighten its flavor and give it some crunch. Dried figs were easier to come by than their fresh counterparts, and chopping them into small pieces ensured that we got bites of fig throughout the salad. A basic vinaigrette, made with mustard and balsamic, was too spicy with the already punchy arugula. A surprise substitution—a spoonful of jam in place of the mustard—added fruity sweetness, pulling the flavors of the salad right in line. Microwaving the vinegar, jam, minced shallot, and chopped figs allowed the fruit to plump and the flavors to meld before we whisked in the olive oil. Toasted walnuts, sprinkled over the dressed arugula, gave the salad an earthy crunch, and Parmesan complemented the walnuts while also reinforcing the prosciutto’s salty flavor. Although frying the prosciutto adds crisp texture to the salad, you can simply cut it into ribbons and use it as a garnish. Honey can be substituted for the raspberry jam.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into ¼-inch-wide ribbons
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry jam
1 small shallot, minced
Salt and pepper
½ cup dried figs, stemmed and chopped
8 ounces (8 cups) baby arugula
½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring often, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer prosciutto to paper towel–lined plate; set aside.
2. Whisk vinegar, jam, shallot, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Stir in figs, cover, and microwave until steaming, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Let sit until figs are softened and vinaigrette has cooled to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
3. Just before serving, whisk vinaigrette to re-emulsify. Add arugula and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, topping individual portions with prosciutto, walnuts, and Parmesan.

VARIATION
Arugula Salad with Pear, Almonds, Goat Cheese, and Apricots
SERVES 6 FAST VEG
Honey can be substituted for the apricot jam.
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon apricot jam
1 small shallot, minced
Salt and pepper
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ small red onion, sliced thin
8 ounces (8 cups) baby arugula
1 ripe but firm pear, halved, cored, and sliced ¼ inch thick
⅓ cup sliced almonds, toasted

3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (¾ cup)
1. Whisk vinegar, jam, shallot, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add apricots, cover, and microwave until steaming, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil. Stir in onion and let sit until figs are softened and vinaigrette has cooled to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
2. Just before serving, whisk vinaigrette to re-emulsify. Add arugula and pear and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, topping individual portions with almonds and goat cheese.

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Cannellini Beans
Serves 4 to 6 FAST VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Asparagus has been a favorite vegetable in the Mediterranean since the Greeks and Romans. To incorporate it into a bright, fresh salad, choosing the right cooking method was key. Steaming produced bland, mushy spears, but sautéing the asparagus over high heat delivered deep flavor and tender texture. We sliced the spears on a bias to expose as much of the inner fibers to the cooking surface as possible. With olive oil in a hot pan, we browned some red onion before adding the asparagus pieces. Just 4 minutes of cooking was enough to produce uniformly tender pieces. Creamy cannellini beans provided a subtly nutty and smooth contrast to the asparagus. While the asparagus mixture cooled, we made a simple vinaigrette of balsamic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. For the greens, we knew peppery arugula would hold up well against the other bold flavors, so we dressed and plated it before tossing the asparagus in the dressing as well. Look for asparagus spears no thicker than ½ inch.

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ red onion, sliced thin
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut on bias into 1-inch lengths
Salt and pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
6 ounces (6 cups) baby arugula

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add asparagus, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is browned and crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl, stir in beans, and let cool slightly.
2. Whisk vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in small bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Gently toss arugula with 2 tablespoons dressing until coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide arugula among plates. Toss asparagus mixture with remaining dressing, arrange over arugula, and serve.

VARIATION
Asparagus, Red Pepper, and Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese
Serves 4 to 6 FAST VEG
Look for asparagus spears no thicker than ½ inch.
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut on bias into 1-inch lengths
Salt and pepper
1 shallot, halved and sliced thin
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
6 ounces (6 cups) baby spinach
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (½ cup)

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add bell pepper and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add asparagus, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is browned and almost tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in shallot and cook until softened and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl and let cool slightly.
2. Whisk vinegar, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in small bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining ¼ cup oil. Gently toss spinach with 2 tablespoons dressing until coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide spinach among plates. Toss asparagus mixture with remaining dressing and arrange over spinach. Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve.

NOTES FROM THE TEST KITCHEN
How to Dress a Salad
Getting a properly dressed salad requires a few simple steps. You never want to dump a set amount of dressing over greens and assume they will be perfectly coated. Once you have overdressed your salad, there is no going back, so it’s best to lightly drizzle and toss the salad with tongs a couple of times, tasting as you go. Generally, ¼ cup of vinaigrette dresses 8 to 10 cups of lightly packed greens, enough for four to six side salads or two to three dinner salads. For the freshest salad, make sure to dress your greens just before serving. Also, for just a hint of garlic flavor, rub the inside of the salad bowl with half a clove of peeled garlic before adding the lettuce.

 

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