1 medium red onion, sliced into thin rings
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 small head each romaine, radicchio, red leaf lettuce, and curly endive
1/2 cup (2 ounces) pine nuts, toasted
3 to 4 whole scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
3 ounces Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler into thin curls
3 ounces thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma, cut into bite-size squares
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
Melting Garlic Balsamic Dressing:
8 large cloves garlic, cut into 1/4-inch dice
About 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 6 tablespoons commercial balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
About 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Working Ahead: The salad can be assembled several hours ahead; cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve it lightly chilled. The dressing can be cooked up to several hours ahead. Cover and set aside at room temperature. Reheat just before serving.
2. Assembling the Salad: Rid the onions of their sharpness by soaking them in the 1/2 cup vinegar about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and dry the lettuces, throwing away any coarse or bruised leaves. Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, toss the greens with all but 3 tablespoons of the pine nuts, most of the scallions, half the cheese, half the prosciutto, and all the basil and parsley. Arrange on a large platter.
3. Making the Dressing: In an 8-inch skillet, slowly cook the garlic with a light sprinkling of salt and generous grindings of pepper in the olive oil over very low heat 8 minutes, or until barely colored. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.
In a small saucepan, boil together the balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar and sugar until reduced by about one third. Stir in the reserved garlic, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.
Rewarm the olive oil and the vinegar separately then whisk together in a small saucepan. Taste for seasoning and sweet/tart balance, taking care not to burn your tongue. Add more vinegar and/or sugar if necessary.
4. To Serve: Top with drained red onion, and scatter the rest of the scallions, pine nuts, cheese, and prosciutto over the salad. Spoon the warm dressing over the salad and serve.
Excerpted from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food, by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (William Morrow and Company, 1992). Copyright © 1992 by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. All rights reserved.
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