Arugula Salad with Country Ham, Pears, and Honey Vinaigrette
Make sure you remove not only the inedible rind but also any excess fat from the cooked country ham. The profound taste of that fat is just too strong, a poor match for the pears.
Nut oils come in two varieties: toasted and untoasted. The toasted versions are one of a pantry’s best-kept secrets. They add a rich, roasted flavor to salads, meats, and even vegetables, drizzled on while still hot. They are quite delicate, so use them as you would toasted sesame oil-at most just a few moments over the heat, lest they volatilize and lose all their aromatic richness. Toasted nut oils can go rancid quite quickly. Always smell before using; they can be stored in the refrigerator for several months.
Arugula can get awfully stemmy, particularly late in the fall. If you notice too many fibrous stems, cut them off-but make sure you use 4 cups packed leaves, even with the stems gone. And remember this: the smaller the arugula leaf, the less astringent the taste.
You can make the dressing up to 4 hours in advance. Store it, covered, at room temperature, and whisk it again before using.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date, Family Get-together
Recipe Courseappetizer, main course
Dietary Considerationappetizer, main course
Taste and Texturenutty, salty, sharp, sweet, tangy
Type of Dishfirst course salad, main course salad, salad
- ½ cup walnut pieces
- 2/3 pound baby arugula leaves (about 4 cups)
- 6 ounces cooked country ham, rind removed and discarded, the meat thinly sliced and cut into strips
- 1 large ripe Bartlett pear, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1½ teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons toasted walnut oil (see Notes)
Sprinkle the walnuts around a dry skillet set over medium-low heat, Leave them alone a couple minutes, then stir well and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, just until splotchy brown and fragrant. Pour them out onto a cutting board, cool for a few minutes, then chop into little bits.
Mix the arugula, ham, and pear pieces in a large bowl.
Whisk the lemon juice, vinegar, honey, and mustard in a small bowl, then whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream until you’ve got a creamy, somewhat thick dressing.
Pour the dressing over the arugula mixture, then sprinkle the toasted walnut pieces on top.
2010 Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough