The original inspiration for this salad was the classic combination of melon and prosciutto, but the remaining ingredients quickly veered into Spanish territory thanks to the Padrón peppers for sale right next to the melons at the farmers' market (after all, prosciutto is not that different from Serrano ham, right?). Crunchy almonds and tangy goat cheese balance out the sweet, salty, peppery flavors in the rest of the salad. I suggest using a Charentais melon if you can find one, but more widely available cantaloupe is almost as good. Enjoy with good bread and a nice cold glass of Albariño or a crisp pale ale on a warm summer's night. —Renee Courtney
2 as a main course, 4-6 as a side
For the dressing:
small shallot, minced
extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
For the salad:
prosciutto (approximately 6 slices)
Padrón peppers (or use shishito peppers)
large cantaloupe or other orange-fleshed melon, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the prosciutto in a single layer on top. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until crisp but not browned. Let cool on baking sheet.
Meanwhile, make the dressing: put the minced shallot in the bottom of your salad bowl with the sherry vinegar, and let sit for 15 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil in a thin stream until blended and season to taste with salt and pepper.
While the shallot is marinating, prepare the peppers: preheat a large skillet (not nonstick, preferably cast iron) over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add enough olive oil to just coat the bottom, and add the peppers to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes depending on size (5-6 if you are using larger shishitos), tossing every 45-60 seconds to encourage blistering on all sides. Remove from heat, and once cool enough to handle, slice into ¾-inch rings, discarding the stems. Let cool completely.
Add the arugula to the salad bowl and toss to coat with the dressing. Gently fold in the melon and peppers until well-distributed. Break the crispy prosciutto slices into bite-sized pieces, and scatter over the top of the salad along with the toasted almonds and goat cheese crumbles. Serve.