We love Eva Kosmas Flores’ style in the kitchen and on the page, which is why we’re so excited about her second collection of recipes. Inspired by her Greek heritage and the rich bounty of produce in America’s Pacific Northwest region, First We Eat is an homage to her roots in every way imaginable. Join a CSA or hit the farmers market hard, because it’s fig, prosciutto and spinach salad time!
I love this salad because it basically involves taking all the delicious fresh fruits of summer and combining them in a catchall salad with some bitter spinach, rich prosciutto, aged goat cheese, and an insanely vibrant and refreshing preserved lemon vinaigrette. You can feel free to swap out some of the berries, depending on what you have around, but I definitely recommend keeping the fresh figs as a part of the dish, since they pair so well with the prosciutto. Besides, what’s an all-encompassing summer salad without fresh figs?
Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped vanilla bean preserved lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon flake kosher sea salt
- 4 cups packed baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
- 1 pound fresh figs, quartered
- 4 ounces cherries, about 1 1/4 cup
- 4 ounces blueberries, about 1 cup
- 4 ounces crottin or other chèvre cheese, crumbled or cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 2 ounces prosciutto, tinly sliced
Vanilla Bean Preserved Lemons (makes 3 or 4)
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
- 4 tablespoons sugar, plus a few pinches
For the lemons
Wash the lemons well. Cut them as if you’re cutting them into quarters, but stop ½ inch before you reach the bottom on one end so that all the quarters are still attached at the base of the lemon.
For the vanilla bean preserved lemons: Rub the vanilla bean seeds inside the lemons. Then rub the interior generously with salt and a pinch of the sugar and reshape them into whole lemons. Pack 1 inch of salt plus 1 tablespoon of the sugar into the bottom of a pint-size mason jar, place one of the lemons in it, and pack salt around the lemon, filling in any gaps between the lemon and the wall of the jar with salt. Cut the vanilla bean pod in half. Place one of the pieces in the salt next to the lemon. Once the salt has nearly covered the lemon, add another tablespoon of the sugar and another lemon, pack it with salt and a piece of vanilla bean pod, and repeat until the jar is completely packed with lemons, salt, vanilla bean pods, and the remaining sugar.
You really want to pack the lemons in there so that they’re crushing each other and releasing their juices. Seal the jar tightly and shake it for 10 seconds. Set it aside at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 3 to 4 weeks, shaking it for a few seconds once per day.
To use, cut off the desired amount of preserved lemon and rinse it thoroughly. The rinds are wonderful finely chopped in dishes for a burst of lemon flavor and are also delicious in stews and sauces. The pulp is a great concentrated source of lemon flavor for sauces, stews, and soups as well, but make sure to take into account the saltiness of the pulp and adjust the salt content of the recipe accordingly.
For the vinaigrette and salad
For the preserved lemon vinaigrette, whisk together the lemon rind, oil, honey, vinegar, and salt in a small bowl until completely combined. Set aside.
For the salad, in a large bowl, toss together the spinach, almonds, figs, cherries, blueberries, crottin, and prosciutto until the components are evenly distributed throughout the salad. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.