Where is this year going? October already, and haven’t posted even half my summer recipes… And even worse, I have only a few weeks left to go on my 4-day-week regimen and then t’s back to proper full-time employment. Sob!
I was trying to remember today what exactly it is that I’ve done with all my days off. I certainly went to gym more than usual. I made a last-minute appointment for the hairdresser and got my pick of time slots. I went on holiday for at least 2 of them (to Italy and Germany). I unpacked boxes of stuff from storage. I made trips to the charity shop, laden with old clothes and goodies. I entertained my old friend Duncan who arrived from South Africa unexpectedly. I sat in the sun in my new garden rather a lot. And, more than once, I foraged for blackberries.
I wrote about my total lack of foraging knowledge previously and although I’m still not much the wiser, I did receive a ton of responses to my pleas to identify these fruit. On a balance of factors (their size, shape, bitterness, and the fact that they grow on thorny shrubs), I have concluded that they are sloes – thanks to all of you who helpfully sent information! Sloe gin to follow later this year For the most part, though, my foraging has been confined to mirabelles and blackberries.
A couple of Fridays ago, the weather (unlike now!) was hot and sunny and all I wanted for lunch was a salad. I had a good haul of blackberries and some leftover Prosciutto in the fridge, so this salad seemed a natural progression. I don’t know why blackberries and Prosciutto are not partnered more often as I can think of few more appealing flavour combinations – just think of the blackberry flavours of the dry red Lambrusco of Emilia Romagna, home of Prosciutto. The salad did not disappoint: all the crunchy goodness of a green salad, the silken saltiness of the Prosciutto, offest nicely by the sweetness of the rich, ripe berries. Don’t stint on the oil and vinegar – use the best you can afford because their flavours will really shine in this salad.
If you still have access to fresh blackberries, I urge you to try this salad as soon as possible – it’s a long way to go until the next season
BLACKBERRY AND PROSCIUTTO SALAD (serves 2)
baby gem lettuce
2 ripe vine tomatoes
a handful of cress
2 sprigs of fresh basil (optional)
1 cup fresh blackberries
6 slices Prosciutto (or similar air-dried ham)
extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar
Maldon sea salt and pepper to taste
Wash and shred/chop enough lettuce for two people and chop about 5cm of a cucumber. Toss in a salad bowl and add the vine tomatoes sliced into thin wedges, as well as the cress. Toss to mix.
Plate the salad and top each plate with 3 slices of Prosciutto and half the blackberries. Garnish with the sprig of basil, if using. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, season with salt and freshly ground black peppe. Serve immediately.
(Featured on the Saveur website)