I came up with this recipe for a charity dinner I catered last fall. I had been looking for an excuse to use duck prosciutto, and the typical Spanish pairing of manchego and quince paste (or membrillo) led me to forgo the more standard choice of pears. What makes this salad so quintessentially fall, however, is the combination of maple syrup and thyme in the dressing - it's both woodsy and slightly sweet. This is a great salad for a dinner party, as it looks quite pretty. —Merrill Stubbs
For the quince
For the salad
Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)
Combine the sugar with 3 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel and core the quince and cut them into ½-inch slices, adding them to the saucepan as you cut them. When the water boils, lower the heat so it is just simmering and poach the quince until they are pink and tender, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Let the quince cool in the liquid and then drain on towels.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, mustard, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking continuously. Combine the salad greens with about two thirds of the dressing, taste, and add more dressing, salt and pepper if necessary. To serve, arrange about 6 slices of quince around the edge of each of 6 salad plates. Pile a heap of the dressed greens in the center of each plate. Arrange 3 slices of prosciutto around the edge of each salad, and using a cheese slicer, shave thin slices of Manchego over the top. Serve immediately.