2 European salads for warm summer evenings

On sticky summer evenings, the last thing you want is a heavy meal. Behold: these two delectable European-inspired salad ideas.

2 European salads for warm summer evenings

Fig and Prosciutto Salad

This elegant salad takes the classic combination of pork and fruit to new heights. A perfect salad for warm summer evenings, this minted salad leaves with sliced fennel and green beans are crowned with prosciutto, halved ripe fresh figs and juicy pineapple. Infused with exotic hints of the Mediterranean, a balsamic vinaigrette balances the flavours.

Preparation time 20 minutes

Cooking time 2 minutes

Serves 4

Salad

  • 50 g (2 oz) thin green beans
  • 125 g (4 oz) mixed salad leaves
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh min
  • t1/4 bulb of fennel, cut into thin strips
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 ripe fresh figs, halved lengthwise
  • 125 g (4 oz) prosciutto, cut into thin strips
  • 1 large slice of pineapple, 150 g (5 ounces), cut into small stripsDressing
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. For the salad, add the beans to a small pot of boiling water and cook for two minutes. Drain and refresh them under cold running water. In a medium bowl, mix the green beans, salad leaves, mint, fennel and shallots.
  2. For the dressing, whisk together the oil, vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl, and season with the salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Toss the salad with the dressing. Arrange the salad leaves on four plates or on a serving platter. Place the figs on the plates or the platter. Add a mound of shredded prosciutto and a mound of pineapple beside them.

One more notch!

To take this salad over the top, add drained, canned or fresh tangerine segments and drizzle some honey over the top. Italian chestnut honey would be particularly good.

French bistro salad

Head to France, the culinary capital of great food! What makes any salad memorable is the dressing, and white-wine vinegar lends just the right acidity to this one. But this salad's real showstopper is the poached egg. When broken, the egg yolk spreads over the greens to balance the dressing's acidity with a creamy richness.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 12 minutes

Serves 4

Salad

  • 125 g (4 oz) slab bacon, cut into 0.5 cm (1/4 in) rectangles
  • 1 large bunch chicory, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 175 g (3/4 c) plain or seasoned croutons
  • 4 large eggsDressing
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) white-wine vinegar
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) minced shallots
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) Dijon mustard
  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil1. For the salad, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, eight to nine minutes.
  • 2. Drain the bacon on a paper towel–lined plate and reserve 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of the fat.
  • 3. For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallots, mustard and salt. Slowly whisk in the oil and the reserved bacon fat.
  • 4. In a large bowl, toss the chicory with the bacon, dressing and croutons and divide among four serving plates.
  • 5. Half-fill a large nonstick skillet with water. Heat until simmering, but do not boil. Add the vinegar. Break the eggs into a cup one at a time, then slide each into the water and poach for 3 minutes. Toward the end of cooking, spoon the water over the yolks. When cooked, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel–lined plate.
  • 6. Slide an egg onto the top of each salad. If the yolks don't break, poke them gently to release their liquid. Serve immediately.

Ingenious!

If you don't want to poach the eggs at the last minute, they can be done several hours ahead and refrigerated in a small amount of cold water. Just before serving, place them into a pan of simmering water for a minute to warm them up.

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