Arugula, Spinach, Strawberry, Prosciutto, and Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic-Mustard Vinaigrette

While starting to work full-time, I also began doing PiYo (a combination of pilates and yoga) six days a week. My goal is to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and proteins in my meals. Don’t get me wrong, I have a deep and undying passion for carbs (I can’t go without pasta for a week or else I get cranky). However, I want to start making healthy, innovative salads that can act as a hearty meal.

A few days ago I came home from work determined to experiment with what I had in my fridge.

Greens: Arugula and Spinach (GREAT combination)

Fruit: Strawberries

Dairy: Fresh Mozzarella

Protein: Prosciutto

Now, what to pair with these ingredients for a dressing. I sifted through my vinegars. Ah ha! Balsamic makes the perfect tangy vinaigrette with a dash of dijon mustard.

The finished product?

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At first bite you feel the heartiness of the spinach with a little punch from the peppery arugula. The sweetness of the strawberry complements the tang of the balsamic vinaigrette. The fresh mozzarella is a welcome repose with its creamy texture. The prosciutto adds some protein, provides a necessary bit of saltiness, and takes to balsamic vinaigrette like a fish to water. A beautiful salad all around.

Arugula, Spinach, Strawberry, Prosciutto, and Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic-Mustard Vinaigrette

Salad (serves 2)

  • 1/2 bag fresh baby spinach, washed
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh arugula, washed
  • 1/2 ball fresh mozzarella, diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 strawberries, washed and chopped
  • 3 slices of prosciutto, ripped into pieces (you can substitute with another protein, like baked chicken)

Vinaigrette (adapted from a recipe in America’s Test Kitchen’s Complete Vegetarian Cookbook)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon light mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash the spinach and arugula and dry using a salad spinner. Add the spinach and arugula to a large bowl.

2. Cut a ball of fresh mozzarella in half, and then cut that half into one-inch cubes, or into whatever size cubes you wish. Add this to the bowl.

3. Wash and cut the strawberries. Add to the bowl.

4. Take three pieces of prosciutto and rip into pieces with your fingers. The pieces can be as large or as small as you’d like. Add to the bowl.

5. To make the vinaigrette, add the balsamic vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper to a smaller bowl. Whisk it until smooth. Then, while whisking with one hand, drizzle in the three tablespoons of olive oil until completely incorporated. If you struggle with this multi-tasking as I certainly have, you can add the olive oil and then whisk. It will turn out just fine!

6. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and mix the salad with tongs until the vinaigrette fully coats all the goodness.

This salad comes together in just minutes, and the flavors do not disappoint.

Have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend, everyone!

Mushroom, Cipollini Onion, Asiago Cheese, and Crispy Prosciutto Quiche

After cooking the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving, what do I want to do? Experiment in the kitchen and make something new! Sometimes I make the most lasting memories in the kitchen from trying something completely different. Every time I think about that one night I attempted to make blueberry cottage cheese pancakes…oh goodness, I can’t stop laughing. What a mess in my skillet. However, failing in the kitchen is a wonderful, beautiful thing because you learn so much from making the mistake(s). You either have to eat that mess you made, or you throw it out in disgust and resort to grilled cheese for dinner (which has happened before!). I will not pretend that I am a “perfect” chef, so I will share my experiments with you, telling you what really works and what needs improvement.

I made quiche with my friend and her family recently. It came out quite well, with bacon, marinated artichoke hearts, mushrooms, onion, and gruyere cheese. I wanted to recreate it in my little studio kitchen with the ingredients I had on hand. That’s the fabulous thing about quiche – you can put practically any combination of meats and vegetables in it!

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Quiche (with mushrooms, cipollini onions, asiago cheese, and crispy prosciutto)

  • 1 frozen pie crust
  • 4 eggs (3 for inside the quiche, 1 for the egg wash on the pie crust)
  • 1 cup of milk (you can add heavy cream, but I used 1% milk and it worked perfectly)
  • 1 cup of asiago cheese, grated (you can use any kind of cheese you wish, like gruyere or cheddar)
  • 5 medium sized baby portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cipollini onions (you can use 1 small onion or a few shallots instead)
  • 4 slices of prosciutto, diced
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chopped fresh parsley to taste

1. Thaw the frozen pie crust and pre-bake according to the package’s instructions. Before you put the pie crust in the oven, crack and beat one egg in a bowl and brush some of the egg onto the crust. This will prevent the quiche crust from getting soggy. Note: I tried using Trader Joes’s frozen pie crust. The crust tasted fine, but the texture turned out far more crumbly than I expected. Pillsbury is always a safe bet, and I may use that next time. If you have the time and the recipe to make your own pie crust, by all means, use that! 

2. While the pre-baked pie crust cools, prepare the ingredients for the filling and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take a cheese grater and grate about a cup of asiago cheese. Shredding your own cheese has its perks. I heard once that packaged shredded cheese can have preservatives that allow it to stay intact and not stick to the other pieces of cheese. While that cheese still melts just fine, hand shredding your cheese will allow it to melt even better.

3. Chop your mushrooms and onion and saute in a pan with a little olive oil until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have released and soaked up their water (about 5-10 minutes). You can add seasoning here (I used salt, pepper, and garlic powder), or wait until you mix everything together.

4. Put the mushrooms and onions in a bowl to cool. Chop your prosciutto into small pieces (the size is up to you, but I cut slices about an inch long and a half inch wide). Saute the prosciutto pieces in a pan for about 2-4 minutes until the meat is fragrant and crispy. Transfer that to a bowl.

5. Next, crack three eggs into your mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of milk and beat the mixture until the eggs are fully incorporated with the milk.

6. Add the sautéed mushrooms, onions, and prosciutto. Add 1/2 cup of the asiago cheese and mix.

7. If you haven’t added any seasoning yet, do so now. I also added a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley here for some color and fresh herb flavor.

8. Pour the egg mixture into your pie pan with the pre-baked crust. Take the remaining 1/2 cup of asiago cheese and sprinkle over the top.

9. Put the quiche in the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes (the deeper the pan, the longer it will need to cook). Insert a toothpick into the middle of the quiche to test for doneness – if it’s clean, it’s good to go. Note: I do not own a special pie pan or quiche pan, so instead I used a square pyrex pan on hand. A traditional pie or quiche pan is less deep and will only need to cook for about 20 minutes. 

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The filling came out so well! Next time I will use a different pie crust that won’t crumble so much on me. What are your favorite fillings for quiche? I can’t wait to experiment with this recipe more.