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Beggar’s Salad with Raspberries, Prosciutto, Chevre and a Chunky Almond Vinaigrette

Mary Anne here. I realize that given the ingredient list, the name for my salad is a bit of an oxymoron, since it’s certainly one of the most elegant combinations I’ve ever tossed into a bowl. But in my opinion, it’s a beggar’s salad because it was inspired by a bounty of fresh greens that I “inherited.”

Let me explain. As Mariel and I have often mentioned, our family homestead is out on the eastern tip of Long Island – nestled in the woods (or as Mariel calls it, the”forest” – I love that) and far enough from the hustle and bustle of summer tourists. And while we love our cozy retreat from the rush of “city” living, our little haven needs upkeep. For me, the easiest way to feed those needs is to occasionally rent out the house for a few weeks during the summer season. This year we were lucky enough to “host” a photographer who needed solitude as she culled through years of slides – many marked for the trash bin. My new friend enjoys food nearly as much as we do here at Feast, and many an evening she phoned to describe her latest catch at the green grocer and fishmonger.

When she reluctantly packed up her assorted belongings, she left me with a produce drawer brimming with local lettuce, fresh dill, mint, and a stash of gorgeous prosciutto – sliced just thick enough. What to do, what to do. I thought hard about whipping up something a bit different from my usual mixed greens and as I tossed around ideas, I found inspiration right in my own “backyard.” I remembered Mariel had crisped prosciutto in the oven to top her Crispy Chicken, Fried Egg and Prosciutto sandwich, so I borrowed that one, and then, as I was scanning New York Magazine, I stumbled upon a salad dressing conjured up by Dan Kluger of ABC Kitchen. He uses raw pistachios and champagne vinegar for a Panisse Lettuce Salad. Too pricey for moi, but I have a stash of raw almonds in my freezer, so I adapted Kluger’s hot oil and nut technique for the base of the vinaigrette.

So really, this isn’t just a beggar’s salad, but a borrower’s as well!

Beggar’s Salad with Raspberries, Prosciutto, Chevre and a Chunky Almond Vinaigrette
Serves 4

Note: The salad dressing’s texture is thick, chunky, and quite tart. My poor palate loves tart but gets burned from the acid, so as usual, I added honey to sweeten the pot and lessen the sting. Try the dressing without the honey, because it really has a fresh, crisp taste. If it’s too tart for your palate as well, pour in the honey.

For the dressing:
1/3 cup plain almonds – $1.99
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil – stock
1 Teaspoon Sesame oil – Asian stock
3 Teaspoons fresh lemon juice – stock
3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar (NOT white vinegar) $2.29
1 Teaspoon coarse sea salt or Kosher salt – stock
lots of freshly cracked black pepper – stock
3 Tablespoons fresh mint, minced – $0.99
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, minced – $0.99
2 Tablespoons honey – optional

For the salad:
2 heads Boston, Bibb, or Curly leaf lettuce, outer leaves removed, tough stems trimmed, and heads cut in ½ lengthwise. Thoroughly rinse under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels – $2.24
4 slices of prosciutto – $2.25
½ pint fresh raspberries, washed and gently patted dry – $2.99
3.5 oz. disk of herbed Chevre cheese, cut into 4 slices – $3.99
Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry: $17.73
Total Per Serving: $4.43

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the prosciutto slices on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake for 7 minutes until crackling and crisp. Remove from the oven and drain on paper towels.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the oils and almonds over low flame until warm, about 4 to 5 minutes. The oil will be just below a simmer.

3. Transfer the almond/oil mixture to the bowl of a food processor armed with the steel blade. Pulse the mixture approximately 10 times until the almonds are roughly chopped. This is a chunky mixture.

4. Transfer to a small bowl and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and chopped herbs. Add the honey, if desired. The dressing will be very thick.

5. Divide the lettuce between 4 plates/shallow bowls. Spoon the dressing over the lettuce and top with the Chevre, raspberries, and crumbled prosciutto. Pass the pepper mill.