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Food Network Favorites: Baby Arugula with Country Ham, Goat Cheese, Dried Cherries & Walnut Vinaigrette

From the Emeril Lagasse chapter in Food Network Favorites comes this delicious salad. The flavor combination is very good, and this dish is an excellent accompaniment to the Mushroom Confit recipe. No quibbles with this one, although I think the ham can be left out without any harm to the final dish. If you've got vegetarians to think about, that's a good option.

Country ham isn't available everywhere, since it's a specialty item most common to the southern United States. If you can't find it, use prosciutto instead, or leave it out entirely. The salad is just as good without it.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

3 to 4 ounces fully cooked, thinly sliced, boneless country ham, OR prosciutto
3/4 cup walnut pieces
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp minced shallots
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
8 cups fresh baby arugula, picked through and washed
1/3 cup dried cherries
2 to 4 ounces fresh goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ham slices and cook until golden and crispy, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and julienne. Set aside.

Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the vinegar, honey, and shallots to the warm nuts and let mixture sit 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the greens with the cherries and the desired amount of dressing. Mound some greens in the center of 4 plates. Arrange the crispy ham around the greens and crumble the cheese on top. Garnish the salad with additional cracked pepper.



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