When a student in a cooking class vows to make a certain dish that very night, it’s the ultimate compliment. There were several enthusiastic promises along those lines when I demonstrated a classic salad consisting of thinly sliced bresaola topped with a heap of arugula and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Everyone assembled their own salad, seasoning it with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper passed at the table.
The fact that you can make the salad in three minutes flat probably had something to do with its popularity. Also the fact that bresaola, an air-cured beef from northern Italy, is new to many people.
I ate a perfect version of this salad in a casual outdoor cafe overlooking Roman ruins in Fiesole. Supple slices of bresaola, tangy arugula, paper-thin slices of cheese so tender it crumbles under its own weight. It’s easy to bring these flavors back home. Just make sure the ingredients are the best and this salad will deliver, every time.
Here’s a deli salad with prosciutto di Parma that dishes up like a dream: frisee dressed with a mustard vinaigrette, with the prosciutto draped along the side and a poached egg tucked in the middle.
Sometimes it’s great to mix up all the good flavors normally displayed separately on an antipasto platter. That’s what happens in a chopped salad I like to make with cubed Genoa salami, mozzarella, black olives, pickled Italian peppers, chickpeas and chopped romaine or escarole–good things from the deli case plus a few fresh ingredients (recipe below).
What a flavor pay-off, with minimal effort!
- 3 ounces thinly sliced Bresaola air-cured beef
- 4 ounces arugula or mixed micro greens
- 12 grape or cherry tomatoes
- 8 oil-cured olives optional
- 2 lemon wedges
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Arrange Bresaola slices on two plates. Lightly top each with arugula. Place tomatoes and olives (if using) around edges. Garnish with lemon wedges.
Pass olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper at the table.
Try this salad: crisp greens tossed with good things from the deli case. The recipe is from PIATTO UNICO, by Toni Lydecker. (Wrong photo: Sorry, can't seem to remove from the recipe template!)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup snipped basil dill, chives or parsley leaves
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella cubes or halved bocconcini about 5 ounces
- 2 to 3 ounces thick-cut Genoa salami cut in small cubes
- 1 can chickpeas (19 ounces), drained and rinsed
- 8 black oil-cured olives pitted
- 2 or 3 pickled Italian peppers
- 3 cups shredded crisp greens such as romaine escarole, or a mixture
Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, basil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a bowl large enough to hold the salad. Add the mozzarella, salami, chickpeas, olives and peppers; stir until coated with the dressing. Place the greens on top. (At this point the salad can be refrigerated for several hours.)
Toss the greens with the ingredients at the bottom of the bowl. Taste and add more olive oil, vinegar, salt or pepper if needed.
Note: This salad can be varied in keeping with deli ingredients you might have on hand or want to try. For example, thin strips of mortadella and small cubes of semi-soft Asiago or provolone could be substituted for the salami and mozzarella. Marinated artichokes or mushrooms could stand in for the peperoncini.