Here, pan-fried pieces of asparagus and prosciutto are combined with wilted baby spinach and crisp-baked croutons in a delicious warm salad for two. Serve with a side dish of new potatoes tossed with a little extra virgin olive oil.
60 g crustless dark rye bread, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
250 g asparagus spears, cut into short pieces
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 shallots, cut into wedges
6 slices prosciutto, about 90 g, trimmed of visible fat and torn into pieces
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon clear honey
250 g baby spinach leaves
pepper to taste
few shavings of Parmesan cheese, about 15 g in total
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Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Toss the bread cubes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then spread out on a baking tray. Bake for about 5 minutes or until crisp.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a wok or frying pan. Add the asparagus in a single layer, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, without stirring. Turn the asparagus over, add the garlic and shallots, and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the prosciutto and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the asparagus, prosciutto and shallot mixture from the wok and put it in a bowl. Keep warm. Add the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and honey to the wok, and stir to mix with the cooking juices. Add the spinach and cook, stirring and turning, until just wilted.
Season the spinach with pepper then divide between 2 plates. Arrange the asparagus, prosciutto and shallot mixture on top. Spoon on any cooking juices and scatter over the croutons and shavings of Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Contrary to popular belief, spinach is not a particularly good source of absorbable iron, but it does have a lot of other nutrients to offer. It is a good source of vitamins C and E, and it provides useful amounts of the B vitamins folate, niacin and B6. In addition, it offers several cancer-fighting phytochemicals.