By Channaly Philipp.
Prosciutto di San Daniele, sliced just right—paper thin to highlight its delicate texture— is silky, ethereally translucent, with a pretty, pearlescent pink shade.
It makes, according to chef and cookbook author Fabio Viviani, the perfect wrap. “You can wrap anything in prosciutto,” he says—asparagus, peaches, figs, the list goes on and on.
Wrap-and-go is about as easy as it gets, so for springtime occasions—think Easter brunch, Mother’s Day celebrations, or parties to welcome back warmer days—you’ll probably spend more time at your favorite Italian specialty purveyor than actually assembling these beauties.
Prosciutto di San Daniele, says Viviani, is made using just three ingredients: pork leg, sea salt, and the microclimate where it is produced, in San Daniele, in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. “I call [the microclimate] an ingredient,” he says, adding that you couldn’t reproduce Prosciutto di San Daniele anywhere else. As with many iconic Italian foods, its hyper regionality is responsible for its very essence.
“The result is a very fragrant very tasty cured meat without being salty at all. It’s very versatile,” he says.
Viviani offers below a recipe where he broils peaches until they are enticingly caramelized, and wraps them in Prosciutto di San Daniele. This is a classic, but you can also serve the prosciutto with different kinds of marmalades and jams, he adds.
That sweet-savory flavor combination can also be found in a recipe of Paul Wahlberg’s, the executive chef and owner of Alma Nove restaurant in Hingham, Massachusetts (his eight siblings include Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, if you were wondering).
Whatever the season, he loves a simple arugula with a mustard vinaigrette. But “to take the flavor of dish to the next level, I incorporate fresh julienned San Daniele prosciutto with a little gorgonzola, and then when in season, I’ll top it off with some fresh port wine soaked figs,” he says (see his recipe below). Fresh figs are great, but if you can’t get ahold of them in season, simmering dry Mission figs in a mix of port wine, peppercorn, honey, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf, and vinegar will give them a fragrant, softening treatment.
If your springtime lasts a little later in your corner of the world, the flavors of early spring also go wonderfully with prosciutto di San Daniele—think of asparagus or fennel as refreshing pairings in salads.
Here, think layering, rather than wrapping.
In fertile Hampshire County, western Massachusetts, called the “Asparagus Capital of the World,” chef Sandy D’Amato of Good Stock Farm in Hatfield uses thin slices of prosciutto di San Daniele as the base, placing a couple of slices on a plate, topped with ricotta mixed with a bit of lavender honey and then followed by grilled asparagus spears on top. The entire dish is finished with a grating of provolone and black pepper.
Another wonderful appetizer preparation comes from chef Charlie Palmer. First he builds the base with some thinly shaved fennel, and builds up with slices of prosciutto di San Daniele, followed by thinly sliced apples, then shaved Parmesan, and finally Upland cress, and the finishing touch, extra virgin oilive oil. It’s an imaginative, contrasting play of crunchy and tender, sweet and savory, fresh and aged.
Sweet, savory, and delicate, prosciutto di San Daniele is indeed a versatile as Chef Fabio Viviani points out. Whether you wrap or layer with it, feel free to follow your own imagination and creativity.
Peach and Prosciutto di San Daniele Salad
Recipe courtesy of chef Fabio Viviani
Makes 4 portions
4 peaches, cut into thirds, pits removed
4 cups baby spinach
1 1/2 cups chopped snow peas
1/2 cup sliced red onion
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely grated seedless cucumber
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
12 thin slices (about 6 ounces) Prosciutto di San Daniele
Mint sprigs, optional
Heat broiler. Place peaches cut-side-up on a broiler pan. Broil until edges are golden and flecked with brown, 3 to 6 minutes. In a large bowl toss spinach, snow peas, onion, tomatoes, cucumber, and mint. In a small bowl combine oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add to salad and toss. Wrap a slice of Prosciutto di San Daniele around each peach piece. To serve, divide salad equally between four plates. Place three of the wrapped peaches alongside each salad. Garnish with a mint sprig, if desired.
Recipe courtesy of chef Paul Wahlberg
Makes 4 servings
For the Dressing:
1 shallot, finely minced
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Port-Soaked Figs:
2 pounds of Dry Mission figs (fresh if available)
1 bottle of port wine (750 mil)
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 each, peppercorn
In a non reaction sauce pan, bring wine, peppercorn, honey, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and vinegar to a simmer. Add dry figs and simmer for 20 minutes. Let stand and cool.
For the Salad:
6 cups of arugula
1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup prosciutto di San Daniele, julienned
1/4 cup quartered poached figs
Combine shallots, dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Whisk in bowl and season. Place arugula in large bowl. Add gorgonzola, figs, prosciutto, and dressing. Toss and serve.
About the author
Channaly Philipp is a writer, editor, and photographer who covers food and travel. She is also a staff journalist at Epoch Times in New York City.