The autumn now holds a distinct chill in the air so I want to pack the blog with the last bit of fresh veg before the winter produce hits the shelves. The next post will feature beautiful asparagus that I hope to find at the market this weekend but for now I want to share a delicious salad recipe that combines lots of textures and flavours. I adore the sweet/sour/spicy dressing combined with the soft, milky cheese and the crunch of the walnuts. To see what I was cooking, eating, and learning about a year ago, check the link at the bottom of each post to view the entry from 12 months earlier.

Florentine artist, The Flour Bolter of Baldassarre Sauarez, Known as Il Mantenuto, 1650
Florence, Accademia della Crusca

According to Silva Malaguzzi in Food and Feasting in Art (one of my absolute favourite reference books), this work of art was commissioned by the Accademia della Crusca. It was tradition for each academician “to choose a nickname associated with flour.” The motto translates to “I am not enough by myself,” an allusion to the fact that ricotta “is a humble cheese with little flavor and therefore needs to be eaten with bread.” Like the other examples of flour bolters commissioned by the Accademia, the composition is starkly simple, with the focus on the single subject and motto. Malaguzzi notes that “the custom of bread-related nicknames was established…to express their antischolastic bent and partly because the plainness and purity of bread…mirrored the qualities that inspired the academicians’ language studies.”

Cranberry Balsamic Dressing

{Ricotta, Prosciutto & Walnut Salad with Cranberry Balsamic Dressing}

200 g fresh ricotta
rocket, washed and dried
100 g walnuts
100 g prosciutto, torn into strips
Cranberry Balsamic dressing (recipe below)

In a pan, toast the walnuts for a couple of minutes until they become fragrant. Wash and dry the rocket and place in large mixing bowl. Carefully break the ricotta over the rocket and tear the prosciutto into strips. Add the toasted walnuts before tossing with the Cranberry Balsamic dressing. Serve immediately.

Ricotta, Prosciutto & Walnut Salad

{Cranberry Balsamic Dressing}

3 TB olive oil
3 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pink peppercorns, ground
2 tsp dried cranberries, minced

Mix all of the ingredients in a small jar. Keep refrigerated when not using.