What does “dinner” mean to you? Growing up in a big family in small town Mississippi, dinner was meat and three sides, and just as likely to be served at noon as at 6 pm. Living in France as a young adult, I was exposed to the art of preparing a more simple meal, with just a few ingredients of the freshest and highest quality.
Once, when a new acquaintance insisted that I stay on for dinner, I hesitated, thinking how I myself would be terribly stressed to have last minute guests. Just minutes later we were enjoying a big bowl of farfalle pasta with the freshest young broccoli, dressed with bright yellow butter, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and shavings from a large wedge of aged Parmesan….an effortless meal, yet perfect for the occasion.
Another lesson came while visiting a friend’s country home on a cold winter night. I began to wonder if I had misunderstood the invitation as there was no sign of meal prep in the kitchen. But as we finished our first glass of wine in the cozy den, the husband added some dried grape vines to the fire, moved a simple cast iron grate into place and proceeded to grill four perfect boneless duck breasts while the wife retrieved a beautiful wild arugula salad from the icebox. I was enchanted by the atmosphere and by the cuisine.
My Main Course Spinach Salad with Prosciutto, Cannellini and Maple Vinaigrette is an example of what you can do with the best ingredients, prepared simply and presented lovingly. It is elegance, pure and simple.
Yield: 4 salads
- 3 teaspoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup light olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- pinch salt
- 1 bunch baby spinach (about 6 cups, stemmed)
- 1 can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1/2 Small red onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4oz thinly sliced prosciutto (cut into ribbons)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
Directions for preparing:
In a small bowl, whisk vinaigrette ingredients together until blended. Place spinach, cannellini beans and red onion in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss.
Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and stir until fragrant, about a minute, then add the prosciutto and stir constantly, separating the ribbons, until it is warmed through, about 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and let this mixture cool slightly before adding it to the salad and tossing to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
From Pure Barre enthusiast, Margaret Bryan French, client at Pure Barre Winston-Salem, NC – Reynolda Village.
About Margaret: I am a food blogger/photographer living in Winston-Salem, NC and Pure Barre devotee of two and a half years. Visit my blog for more of my recipes: https://www.therightrecipe.org.
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