I haven’t yet met anyone who didn’t like dried ham.
In its many permutations – Prosciutto di Parma, Jamón Serrano and Jamón ibérico, or any variety of Speck – dried ham is probably the most favoured cured pork product around. And if I am wrong, then feel free to correct me, but it certainly is one of my and my friends’ favorites (a good pancetta does come close as well), which is what matters here.
Dried ham in all of its permutations is generally reputed to be delicious, and is frequently expensive, but the sad misconception (courtesy fat-is-bad brigade, grrr!) about it is that it is ruinous to one’s health, and should be avoided by anyone eating healthy.
This, frankly speaking, is bull. Unless you are on a no-salt diet for kidney failure or similar reasons, or are sensitive to nitrates and nitrites (curing salts), or pork itself, dried ham is a fantastic addition to your food repertoire. Yes, it is not light in either calories or fat, but if you feel you want to concern yourself with those, consider the fact that it has a lot of flavor packed into paper-thin slices, and that despite it being calorific and salty per 100g, the amount of culinary bliss per those 100g is above and beyond most other meat-based foods in such a small quantity. And (unless you are like me and don’t concern yourself with fat or calories, watching sugar instead) you don’t actually need to pile a huge amount of said ham on – one or two slices brighten up a salad like literally nothing else. Though, as you can see in above photo, I myself am very dried ham-happy and just pile it on. But the point is that such amount of it is not necessary to use if you want it as an accent and flavor.
No one who likes their food (and doesn’t eschew pork on religious grounds) would stick their nose up at this salad – and the best part is that the hardest bit of preparation is pulling the ham out of its package and chopping the melon. And considering the speed and ease of preparation, this essentially amounts to fast food. Compare it to most typical junk people eat in a hurry, and you’ll see the light. Or the ham. Same thing, really!
Ingredients (for 2 large plates):
- Several large handfuls of arugula (rocket, rucola, etc.), watercress or other strong-flavored baby greens
- 10 – 15cm of cucumber, washed and sliced
- 1/2 of a cantaloupe melon, cored, taken off peel and chopped – I like mine ripe enough to be aromatic and sweet but still crisp rather than mushy, but any stage of ripeness would do if you prefer it otherwise
- 6 – 8 slices of dried ham of your choice (the one in the salad in the picture was some sort of generic Spanish variety which was found lurking in the back of the fridge during a routine sensor sweep – have I mentioned that, unopened, dried ham keeps in the fridge for ages?)
- Pinch chili flakes and dried oregano each – or if you have fresh herbs, feel free to substitute 2 teaspoons of fresh chopped oregano or thyme for the dried
- Flaked sea salt
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
- Place your greens onto plates and fluff them up
- Spread cucumber slices on top
- Pull apart the ham and drape it over the cucumber
- Pile cantaloupe pieces on top of the ham in the centre of the plate
- Sprinkle with chili flakes and oregano (dried or fresh or thyme if using.)
- Drizzle with olive oil
- Sprinkle with sea salt flakes – and it is ready to eat, though it certainly won’t hurt it to stand for about 5 minutes to let the melon drip juice all over the ham.
Lovely, healthy and oh-so-drool-inducingly gorgeous!