Spinach, ham and asparagus salad

    45 min

    Here, pan-fried pieces of asparagus and Parma ham are combined with wilted baby spinach leaves and crisp baked croutons in a delicious warm salad for 2. Serve with a side dish of new potatoes tossed with a little extra virgin olive oil, snipped chives and black pepper, or with crusty French bread.

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    Serves: 2 

    • 55 g (2 oz) crustless dark rye bread, cut into cubes
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 250 g (8½ oz) asparagus spears, cut into short pieces
    • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 4 shallots, cut into wedges
    • 85 g (3 oz) Parma ham, trimmed of fat and torn into pieces
    • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tsp clear honey
    • 250 g (8½ oz) baby spinach leaves
    • few shavings of Parmesan cheese, about 15 g (½ oz) in total
    • salt and pepper

    Prep:30min  ›  Cook:15min  ›  Ready in:45min 

    1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF, gas mark 6). Toss the bread cubes with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, then spread out on a baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes or until crisp.
    2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a large wok or frying pan. Add the asparagus, arranging it in a single layer, and cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes, without stirring. Turn the asparagus over, add the garlic and shallots, and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the Parma ham and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly.
    3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the asparagus, ham 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.
    4. Season the spinach with salt and pepper to taste, then divide between 2 plates. Arrange the asparagus, ham and shallot mixture on top. Spoon on any cooking juices and scatter over the croutons and shavings of Parmesan. Serve immediately.

    Some more ideas

    Make a spinach and pear salad with Camembert, to serve 2. Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, and fry 4 chopped shallots with 15 g (½ oz) pecan nuts until the nuts are lightly toasted. Meanwhile, divide 125 g (4½ oz) baby spinach leaves between 2 shallow bowls, and add 1 large avocado and 1 pear, both cut into slices lengthways. Add 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp clear honey to the shallots and nuts, and stir to mix, then add 115 g (4 oz) diced Camembert. Let it heat gently until starting to melt, then spoon the mixture over the salad and serve. * Instead of Parma ham, use 4 rashers of lean smoked back bacon, rinded and cut into pieces. Add it with the asparagus.

    Plus point

    Contrary to popular belief, spinach is not a particularly good source of iron, but it does have a lot of other nutrients to offer. It is a good source of several antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin E, and it provides useful amounts of the B vitamins folate, niacin and B6. In addition, it offers several cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

    Each serving provides

    A, B1, B6, C, E, folate, niacin * B2, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc

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