Sicilian Salad with Dried Fruit and Fried Rosemary

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I’m not quite sure why I call this Sicilian Salad. I guess because that’s what it says at the top of the recipe I keep in my computer. A recipe I copied from a note card I must have written in the 1990’s. I wish I’d kept the note card as opposed to transcribing all my stuff into computer files decades ago. I bet that note card had some clue as to why I call this particular type of salad a Sicilian Salad.

My guess is I had something similar in Sicily (the one time I went there in the 1980s). I know that’s not exactly definitive proof that this Sicilian Salad is at all typical of Sicily. But if it helps any I make this salad a lot and I always call it Sicilian Salad. Of course I make it different every time, because I imagine that’s how they’d do it in Sicily. Sometimes I use apples instead of grapes. Sometimes persimmons. Salads should be seasonal.

Almonds show up in my Sicilian Salad all the time. This time I used pine nuts because that’s what I had. Salads should be simple.

I usually use some sort of bitter green too, like escarole or treviso (I know treviso is red, but it’s still green to me. I also know Treviso is in Northern Italy– lighten up).

Lastly, I always use some other “heftier” cooked veggie as a base in this salad (like broccoli rabe or zucchini). Green beans show up a whole lot too. Well, in this case haricots vert. I know haricots vert are French (really you’re taking this Sicilian Salad moniker a little too literally).

The only other constant, and the reason I call this a Sicilian Salad, is the fried prosciutto ‘chips’ and the combination of dried fruit and nuts stirred into a very lemony dressing. Oh I can’t forget the rosemary. This is the only salad I ever bother with frying rosemary. I’m not sure why that’s so. I love fried rosemary.

So there you have it. Sicilian Salad. Sweet, sour and salty– with plenty of crunch. Just like Sicily, right? Well, just go with it… I did. GREGSicilian Salad

Sicilian Dried Fruit Salad

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 2-4Published

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce raisins
  • water (as needed)
  • 4 ounce haricots vert (trimmed on the stem end)
  • ice (as needed)
  • kosher salt (as needed)
  • olive oil (as needed according to the size of your pan)
  • 4 (3-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • 1 cup halved grapes
  • 8 dried apricots (cut into ¼ inch dice)
  • ½ small red onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 lemon (juice only)
  • 1 treviso (or radicchio or other bitter Italian leafy vegetable)
  • 1 ounce pine nuts (toasted)
  • black pepper (to taste)

Directions

Place the raisins in a small heat-proof bowl. Cover with boiling water. Set aside at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour. Drain before using.

Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and add haricots vert. Blanch them until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes and no more. Quickly drain and then plunge them into the prepared ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again and pat dry. (Haricots vert can be blanched 1 day ahead, drained and patted dry, covered and refrigerated until ready to use.)

Pour about 1 inch of olive oil into a very small saucepan; place over high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer add one rosemary sprig to the hot oil. It should sizzle, but not burn. Fry the rosemary about 30 seconds, just until the color changes but before it begins to brown. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with remaining rosemary sprigs. Remove oil from heat and set aside to cool. Retain it for the dressing.

Lay the prosciutto slices in a single layer along the bottom of heavy bottomed non-stick or cast iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and fry the slices until crisp, turning once. If the slices want to curl too much try weighting them down with a bacon press or a slightly smaller pan. Watch them closely. They can go from crisp to burned easily. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Once cool, crumble into bite-sized bits.

Place the raisins, haricots vert, halved grapes, diced apricots and onion slices in a large bowl. Roll the fried rosemary sprigs between your fingers allowing the leaves to fall from the stems into the bowl. Discard stems. Add the lemon juice and 5 tablespoons of the cooled rosemary scented olive oil; stir to combine.

Slice the treviso crosswise into ¼ inch strips, separating and discarding any pieces of core as you work. Add the strips to the salad bowl; toss to combine.

Divide salad among 4 plates (2 if serving as a main course) and top with crumbled fried prosciutto, toasted pine nuts and a grind of black pepper. Serve immediately.