Andy Nusser, Chef at Casa Mono
Dish: Ensalada la Gitana
Wine: Hidalgo Manzanilla la Gitana ($13)
“Hidalgo Manzanilla la Gitana is perfect for spring and summer months out on the patio. When well chilled, the sherry goes down like water; it’s bone-dry, fresh, and tangy. Sherry is an excellent match for ‘unmatchable’ vegetables like asparagus and artichokes, which makes it a great pairing for the following salad.”
1 bunch pencil asparagus
1/2 dozen small artichokes (or 1 jar marinated artichokes)
1/2 pound sea beans
1/4 pound fried and salted Marcona almonds
1 tablespoon pimentón
1 bunch frisée
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup Spanish extra- virgin olive oil 12 thin slices Serrano ham
Bring a medium-size pot of salted water to boil. Blanch asparagus until ends are tender. Plunge in a large bowl of ice water. Remove from bowl, place on a kitchen towel. In same boiling water, blanch sea beans for 10 seconds. Plunge in ice water and remove. Cook quartered artichokes in boiling water until tender. Drain and chill. Toss almonds and pimentón in a food processor, and pulse to coarse grind. Clean and cut frisée into 2-inch pieces.
In a large salad bowl, add frisée, asparagus, artichokes, sea beans. Dress with sherry vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Lay out 2 slices of ham on 6 plates. Toss the salad with your hands.
Find the asparagus from the bowl, and lay 4 or 5 stems on top of the ham on each plate, then place the frisée over the asparagus, and finally the artichokes and sea beans. Dust the tops of the piled salad with the coarsely ground pimentón almonds. (serves 6)