Course Three of my fabulous wine-pairing dinner was a simple, yet elegant, salad. I like serving salad towards the middle of a multi-course meal because it’s a nice shift and a sort of palate cleanser. This salad was a lovely light dish to follow the hearty and robust Soppressata Bean Soup.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir being paired with a salad because Pinot Noir is such a versatile wine. It pairs well with just about anything. It can stand up to a perfectly medium-rare filet mignon or sweetly compliment a seared scallop. I practically live by the phrase, “When in doubt, Pinot wins out” when stumped by a new venue’s extensive wine list.
Don and Sons Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir was well received by everyone at the table. Described as “tart with a hint of florals” and “good balance of smoothness and complexity” this wine had David exclaiming, “I would buy a bottle of that!” but of course not to be outdone, Elyse chimed in with, “I’d buy a case of that!” Jonathan, our resident Pinot Noir snob, called it “a very good Pinot Noir”.
The winemaker’s description of this wine is fitting. It is a lovely wine to enjoy on its own, but also was quite nice with the Truffled Spinach and Prosciutto Salad. The above comments were all made from taste one of this wine, even before the salad was presented.
When I was planning this dinner and saw that this salad recipe included truffle oil I nearly leapt from my chair in excitement. I love truffles. Whole truffles, shaved truffles, truffled Brie, truffle oil. The mushroomy earthiness of truffles is probably my absolute favorite savory flavor. I always have a bottle of truffle oil in my kitchen. A caution about truffle oil: a little goes a very long way. Most restaurants abuse their dishes with truffle oil. I am often disappointed after ordering a dish that contains truffle oil. It is such a powerful aroma and flavor that it can quite easily overpower anything it comes in contact with. So please, if you have tried a truffle oil dish at a restaurant and decided you don’t like that flavor, give it another try! Make this salad and start with just a drop of truffle oil. Then add more until you can just barely taste that earthy goodness on the back of your tongue. The best way to pick out that flavor when it is used properly is to take a bite of your food, and with your mouth closed and bite still intact, breathe gently through your nose. Your mouth will be filled with earthy goodness and you will understand Daisy’s palate and love affair with food just a little bit more. Do yourself a favor: once you try this salad and realize you do like truffle oil, go out and get yourself an order of truffle fries.
I stuck to the main ingredients of this recipe with just a few changes. I wanted the truffle oil to shine without overpowering so I used my own simple salad dressing instead of the mustardy concoction suggested. The chiffonade of spinach provided a neutral bed for the salty prosciutto, nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano, and earthy truffle oil to marry into a flavorful, yet delicate, third course salad to enhance the light bodied pinot noir.
Truffled Spinach and Prosciutto Salad
Makes 8 Appetizer Portions
4 Cups Fresh Spinach, washed and stemmed
8 Slices Prosciutto
2 Ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
1/8 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Teaspoons Black Truffle Oil
1. Slice spinach and prosciutto into very thin ribbons and place in bowl
2. Grate or slice cheese and set aside
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, and truffle oil
4. Toss dressing with salad until well coated, taste and add more truffle oil if desired
5. Serve salad with cheese sprinkled on top