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Field Salad with Pancetta and Walnuts

In Italy, this salad is known as insalata del campo, or “field salad.” Choose whatever combination of greens looks the best at the market, but include at least one or two bold or bitter varieties, such as dandelion, frisée, escarole, arugula or radicchio, that will stand up to the big flavors of the walnuts, cheese and crisp pancetta.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts 
  • 3 oz. thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  •   

For the balsamic vinaigrette:

  • 2 to 3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  •   
  • 6 to 8 cups torn salad greens, including some bitter varieties (see note above)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for shaving

Directions:

In a dry fry pan over medium-low heat, toast the walnuts, stirring, until fragrant and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool, then coarsely chop and set aside.

In a fry pan over medium heat, fry the pancetta, stirring frequently, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain.

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended.

Put the greens in a large serving bowl, drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly. Add the pancetta and nuts and toss well. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the cheese over the salad and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Salad of the Day, by Georgeanne Brennan (Weldon Owen, 2012).