I know some of you are still braving wintery temps, but for most of us the weather has warmed up enough for us dream of firing up the grill for that first fantastic meal of the year.
Okay, so it’s warm enough to grill all year in Phoenix. You got me there.
But I think you get my point.
For many people, the first things to hit the grill every year are hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken. But don’t forget the side dishes, people! If you’ve already got the grill going, why not let it do double (or triple–grilling makes for great desserts, too) duty?
Asparagus, melon, and prosciutto may seem odd for some people, but this salad is just an update on a classic Italian combination. The grilled asparagus is smoky, the melon is sweet, and the prosciutto is perfectly salty. With just a few more add ons, an already awesome spring vegetable becomes something truly special that I know you’ll want to make time and again.
Asparagus and Melon Salad
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, Giada at Home
2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
2 TBSP pine nuts
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
2 tsp. plus 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, divided
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1/4 small melon, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-in. cubes
4 oz. burrata or fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 3/4-in. cubes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Preheat outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment and arrange prosciutto in a single layer. Spread pine nuts on a separate small baking sheet. Place both sheets into oven. Bake prosciutto until crispy, 12-14 minutes, then remove and chop into 1/4-in. strips. Remove pine nuts when lightly browned, 8-12 minutes. Set both items aside.
3. Coat asparagus with 2 tsp. olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until tender, but still with bite, 2-3 minutes per side.
4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, remaining TBSP olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add in melon and cheese cubes. Toss to coat.
5. To serve, chop asparagus into 3/4-in. pieces and add into bowl with melon and cheese. Top with prosciutto and pine nuts. For a more elegant (but harder to serve) presentation, lay the asparagus on a platter and, using a slotted spoon, top with melon mixture, prosciutto, and pine nuts. Serve immediately.
Yields: 4-6 servings