Rustic Italian Salad Makes an Impressive Lunch

During the holidays, it seems I just go from one rich, multi-course family meal to another, so the day after Thanksgiving, I wanted a light but satisfying lunch that would impress even the harshest of family critics.

This salad was just the thing. The pears, grapes and dried cherries added a natural sweetness to the salad that contrasted well with the aged balsamic vinegar and pecorino cheese. The pine nuts added a buttery flavor, and the prosciutto a crispy texture. To make this for your family — mine went nuts over it! — read more.

Insalata Rustica

Insalata Rustica

Insalata Rustica


1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 ounces 1/8-inch-thick slices prosciutto, chopped
1 1/2 cups stemmed seedless red grapes
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
10 cups (loosely packed) greens, such as frisée, arugula, and torn radicchio
2 Bosc pears, cored; 1 cut into matchstick-size pieces, 1 thinly sliced
Aged balsamic vinegar (for drizzling)
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 ounces 1/8-inch-thick rectangular slices Pecorino Romano cheese, each slice cut on diagonal into triangles


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Whisk 1/2 cup oil and lemon juice in small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto to skillet and sauté until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer crisp prosciutto to paper towels to drain.
  4. Toss grapes with 1 tablespoon oil on rimmed baking sheet. Roast until grapes begin to shrivel, about 15 minutes. Cool grapes on baking sheet.
  5. Place cherries in small bowl. Add enough hot water to cover cherries by 1 inch. Let cherries soak in bowl 15 minutes to soften. Drain.*
  6. Mix greens, matchstick-sized pear pieces, dressing, 2/3 of prosciutto, grapes, and cherries in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among plates.
  7. Garnish with pear slices, drizzle with vinegar, and sprinkle with pine nuts and remaining prosciutto. Garnish with cheese.

Serves 8.

*Dressing, prosciutto, grapes, and cherries can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.