My first visit to France was to Lyon. Did you know that Lyon is the "kitchen capital of the world?" I was pretty much introduced to French food there and it was amazing! In particular, I was surprised to discover how awesome the salads were. We dined out a lot in France and I don't think I have ever been disappointed by any kind of salad there. I tell you the French sure know how to make a great salad!
My mother-in-law in France doesn't have a lot of interest in cooking but there is this one salad she can make and when I first tasted it, I was instantly in love. This is pretty much the only salad she ever makes :) It's one of those salads you'll want to serve during a special occasion though because it's definitely a crowd pleaser. Since being introduced to it, I have been making it a lot myself. Well, I made it more often when we were still living in France since they had very tasty cured hams. Hams, salami, any kind of deli meat, and of course cheese were plentiful and delicious there.
The following salad recipe is inspired by my mother-in-laws salad. When you taste it for the first time, just close your eyes and picture yourself sitting outside dining in Paris on a Spring day :) You can use any kind of leafy lettuce. I used an assorted organic green salad mix. Remember, when it comes to eating things raw and in particular, anything French, it's all about the freshness and quality of the ingredients. The balsamic vinegar that I used was actually a bottle my mother-in-law gave us. In fact, we have quite a few kitchen ingredients and supplies that are straight from France. We're a bit spoiled that way :)
French Leafy Greens with Cured Ham
200-250g mixed leafy greens
1 sweet medium apple, cut into small cubes
150-175g cured ham
1/4 cup roasted almonds, roughly crushed
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2 tsp fresh herbs, finely chopped (e.g. basil, thyme, oregano)
Unless you bought the pre-washed mixed greens, you'll need to first wash your leafy lettuce, break it up a bit and spin it dry. Assemble the lettuce on each plate. Sprinkle on the bits of cut apple. Lay on the cured ham. Mix all the dressing ingredients together well and spoon over each plate. Finally, sprinkle over the crushed almonds and drizzle on a bit of olive oil. Serve this with some fresh baguette. And a glass of red wine, if you like ;)
Note: This is one of those dishes that I just eyeball so the quantity I listed in the ingredients above may need to be adjusted a bit. If you don't feel like your salad is oily or has enough dressing, you may need to add more olive oil or make more dressing.