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A pretty salad that positively screams 'spring!'

"Home With the Lost Italian" food columnist Sarah says this recipe makes a beautiful brunch salad that's fresh and brightly flavored.

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Sarah's Primavera Brunch Salad features an elegant and stunning display of edible roses created from melons, prosciutto and cucumber.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum
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FARGO — This Primavera Brunch Salad was inspired by a recipe from food stylist Meg Quinn, and it is one of the prettiest salads I have ever made. Fresh and brightly flavored, this salad features a blend of melons, prosciutto, cucumber, red onion and fresh mozzarella, artfully arranged atop a bed of spring greens in a stunning floral display that positively screams “spring!”

For the greens, place a generous mix of baby arugula and spring greens on a large serving platter and drizzle them with good extra-virgin olive oil. It is important to use greens that are light and springy, like this mix, as they have right kind of texture and bounce that allows the edible roses to be tucked in among them without losing their shape.

To create the melon roses, cut each melon in half, remove the peel from the exterior and use a spoon to scoop out all of the seeds. Next, use a wide vegetable peeler to shave the melon half down one side, from top to bottom, working on both sides if needed, until you have about 15 paper-thin pieces.

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Use a wide vegetable peeler to shave the melons into thin slices that can be easily rolled into roses.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

For the cucumber, remove each end and use the same peeler to shave it from top to bottom, discarding the first piece, which is mostly the peel. Shave along one side until the seeds become visible, then switch to the next side of the cucumber and repeat until just the core remains.

Once the melon and cucumber shavings are ready, roll each piece into a rose and tuck it into the greens, with the narrow end on the bottom. Scatter the colors so that they are artfully distributed around the platter in a splash of color without overcrowding one another.

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To make the prosciutto roses, fold the slice of meat in half lengthwise and then wrap it around your index finger. Tuck each piece into the greens, and then scatter the baby mozzarella balls around the roses. You can use marinated or plain mozzarella balls, depending on your taste and what is available in your local market.

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To create the prosciutto roses, fold each piece in half lengthwise, then wrap it around your index finger.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

I used my food mandolin to create paper-thin slices of red onion, and a serrated knife would also work well. To place the onions, pick up several at a time and tuck them in among the roses in small clusters.

A sprinkling of fresh mint adds a refreshing burst of flavor to complement the simple orange vinaigrette that pulls everything together.

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Fresh mint is chopped and scattered over the salad for a burst of refreshing flavor.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

You can assemble the salad and refrigerate it up to 24 hours in advance, but wait to apply the dressing until just before serving. The orange vinaigrette can be made up to a week in advance and is also an excellent dressing for fish and chicken.

While the preparation may seem a little fussy, the elegance and refreshing flavor of this salad cannot be overstated. I was recently asked to bring a salad to a bridal shower, and the oohs and aahs this dish received were well worth the extra effort of shaving and rolling the beautiful, edible roses. Have a happy and blessed Easter, filled with delicious spring flavors.

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A simple orange vinaigrette pulls all the flavors of the salad together and can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to a week.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Primavera Brunch Salad

PRINT: Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe

Serves: 8

Salad ingredients:
3 to 4 cups spring greens
3 to 4 cups baby arugula
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
15 slices of shaved cantaloupe, rolled into roses
15 slices of shaved honeydew melon, rolled into roses
10 to 15 slices of shaved English cucumber, rolled into roses
8 slices prosciutto, folded in half lengthwise and rolled into roses
15 baby mozzarella balls, plain or marinated
¼ cup red onion, sliced paper thin
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup Orange Vinaigrette (more as desired)

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Orange Vinaigrette ingredients:
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Place all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a Mason jar or small bowl; shake or whisk vigorously until fully combined and emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week. Shake or whisk again before serving.

To assemble the salad, toss the spring greens and arugula together and place on a large platter; drizzle with olive oil.

Tuck the shaved melon, cucumber and prosciutto roses into the greens, with the wide side facing up. Arrange the mozzarella balls around the salad, then take small clusters of the paper-thin red onion and tuck them in around the roses. Sprinkle the chopped mint over the entire salad. The salad may be assembled and refrigerated up to 24 hours before serving.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad just before serving and finish with a sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper. Use tongs to serve the salad and enjoy.

Sarah’s Tips:

  • Use a wide vegetable peeler to shave the melons and cucumber.
  • A food mandolin or serrated knife work best to create paper-thin slices of red onion.
  • For the prosciutto roses, fold each piece in half lengthwise and then wrap it around your index finger, with the white of the fat facing upward.
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Light and bouncy greens, like baby arugula and spring greens, have the right texture to hold the edible roses in place.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Recipe Time Capsule:

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Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.
“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.
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