I used to hate salad. Salads were usually boring, covered in ranch or some disgusting gloopy vinegar, so I stayed away. Or worse, the school salad bar which included canned peaches and cottage cheese... I couldn't even think about salad until France.
When I went to Paris the first time, I was seventeen, and my mom and I stopped at this old style Italian restaurant on the Rue de Rivoli complete with mirrored walls, red velvet curtains, and a little Italian waiter with a bow tie. It clearly hadn't changed in fifty years. To my dismay, my mom ordered a salad for us to share. Little did I know that that very salad would change what salad meant to me. It was a lofty pile of mesclun greens with nothing but olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, shaved parmesan, and fresh ground black pepper. Now THAT was a salad. I could eat that!
That's how salad should be! Fresh, dressed moments before eating, with good vinegar, spicy greens, and black pepper. This salad has all of the above plus creamy camembert, ripe plums, and salty prosciutto.
Sam hated salad, too, with the same connotations that I had before the French salad. But he changed his mind when I started serving arugula with homemade vinaigrette and a hint of mustard. Now we eat that almost every night. Making your own dressing is any easy way to give salad a new life. I put dressing in tiny ball jars and bring them to work.
This salad is inspired by a recent read of mine. I read Delancey by Molly Wizenberg about a pizza shop she and her husband started. She fills it with some recipes, and one that I particularly like is the stone fruit salad. This is my take on a stone fruit salad. It should only take a few minutes to put together, and it would be a great desk lunch with a crusty baguette.
Years ago I discovered Golden Balsamic vinegar. It has a lighter, fruitier flavor to it, so I chose it to pair with this salad, though you can use regular balsamic.
I also like the arugula here because it's a really spicy green that complements the sweet and salty flavors of the prosciutto and plums. You can substitute a mesclun or another blend of greens if you like.
SIMPLE FRENCH SALAD WITH PLUMS
Serves 4 as an appetizer or two as an entree
1 box (about 5 ounces) of arugula
2 plums, halved and thinly sliced
Camembert, sliced into thin wedges
2 thin slices of prosciutto per salad
Fresh ground black pepper
For the dressing:
a squeeze of lemon
2 tbsp golden balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of kosher salt
a couple grinds of black pepper
In a small bowl or ramekin, add the lemon, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Use a fork to whisk together.
In a large salad bowl, add the greens. Pour the dressing over the greens, tossing to coat. Coat only just before serving.
Pile the salad onto each plate. Add 4 slices of plums, 4 slices of camembert, and add a pile of torn prosciutto to the top. Add a couple grinds of black pepper. Serve immediately.