Today we have an entrant for the first course of the Diced! competition. Contestants were instructed to create or find a recipe for an appetizer, soup or salad containing the following ingredients: Peach Preserves (or jam or jelly), Pita Bread, Regular carrots (baby ones would be acceptable) and Prosciutto. They were instructed to make their dish and create a blog post about it, including pictures. You can help determine who advances to the next round. On Friday, after the last post, I will post a poll where you can vote for up to four of the contestants to move on. Vote for the post you like the best. You can vote because of the inventiveness, the yummyness, the use of ingredients, the quality of the writing and pictures or for any other reason. The poll will be active for one week only. Check back and vote. In the event of a tie, the Ranting Chef will choose who advances. More information about Diced! can be found here.
Today’s contestant, Maggie is no stranger to The Rantings of an Amateur Chef. As the author of the popular Maggie Monday series, she has brought us quite a few great dishes. Now it is time for Maggie to go toe-to-toe with our other contestants.
Whew. This was sorta fun! I am good at following recipes, and tweaking them each time I make them. I decided to enter the Diced competition to stretch myself a bit and see what I might do if I had to actually create my own dish. I was thrilled with the Ranting Chef’s list of ingredients. I’ve traveled to Italy several times, and knew immediately I wanted to pull together a salad that would make good use of Prosciutto, front and center!
In Tuscany, Prosciutto wrapped melon is on the starter menu at every trattoria. Since the ingredients called for peach preserves, I thought it would be fun to use sliced peaches to complement my planned salad dressing, as a nod to the traditional Tuscan appetizer. I was very pleased with the presentation and taste. I can’t wait to try this again when I can actually get my hands on fresh ripe peaches. The ones in the supermarket in March… meh- they are not so good. We work with what we got, right?
Olive Oil tip- I keep two bottles of EVOO on hand. I buy a mid range for cooking, sauces, etc.; and a really outstanding-highest-quality I can get my hands on for eating raw. This means salad dressings, salsas, dipping, or drizzling. If you are not going to heat it, use the best you can find. My favorite is Frescobaldi.
I had never made carrot curls before, and it was easy and fun. I would not do this for an everyday family meal, but they fancy up the presentation, and are nice, crisp, cold and super pretty. They made me feel all fancy-like!
I plated the salads, and served them to my husband and #1 son. I think I’ve shared before that my husband is a major carnivore. He likes salad- if it has a crap-ton of meat in it. So, I was anxious to get his take on my Tuscan Salad. He snarfed it down, and asked to finish mine. #1 son decreed it the best salad he’s ever had, and said he would order it as an entrée salad in a restaurant. FYI- he is 28 and I have never seen him order an entrée salad. Not. Ever.
After the salad was gone, my husband asked me to make him another seasoned and toasted Pita. I love him, so I did. And he promptly snatched the last bit of Prosciutto, slapped it on the pita, and ate it up. Man’s gotta have his meat.
Salad won the battle. Prosciutto won the war.
Prosciutto Peach Salad
What you need:
Organic Baby Spinach and Spring Salad Mix- 7-9 oz package
2 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced into eighths
Prosciutto, 3 oz package, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, thinly peeled and shaped into curls
Cherry tomatoes, halved
2 pita bread rounds
1 Tbs Olive Oil
Dried spice mixture of your choice (I used Penzeys Sunny Paris- but you could use a simple Italian Herb mix)
Black pepper, to taste
¼ cup peach preserves
1 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp honey
½ Tbs fresh basil, chopped
What you do:
Mix together dressing ingredients, and set aside.
Peel carrot, and continue to make long, thin strips of the carrot. Roll each slice up tightly, poke through with a toothpick and place in iced water for at least an hour. You can do this overnight if you wish. Carrot curls make it look fancy. If you wish to keep it simple, just use the thinly pared carrot strips. Same taste, just a more simple presentation.
On a small plate or bowl, place 1 Tbs oil, garlic salt and Sunny Paris seasoning to taste. I used about ¼ tsp of each. Brush onto Pita round with a basting brush.
Toss the salad with dressing so the leaves are lightly coated. Remove carrot curls from iced water. Remove toothpicks and uncurl carrots to desired shape.
Arrange the toasted pita wedges evenly around the outer edge of a salad place. Place about 1-2 cups of dressed spring mix over the pita wedges. Arrange Prosciutto wrapped peaches, carrot curls, and cherry tomatoes over the salad. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Remember – check back after the last post to vote on who advances in the Diced! competition.