"It’s beginning to look a lot like summer. The sun is streaming through our windows, the nights are getting longer and the invites to barbecues are starting to trickle in. It also means that I start to trade my lunch time soups for hearty salads and this Mediterranean-inspired salad with aubergine, courgette, artichoke, Parma ham and parmesan tastes every bit as good as it looks. Dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, if you were to eat this dish with your eyes closed you could easily convince yourself you were sitting in an Italian piazza."
Thinly slice both the aubergine and courgette. Put a griddle pan on the stove on a high heat. Once the pan is very hot, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
Now, lay the aubergines and courgettes in the pan and grill on each side for a couple of minutes, until they have started to char slightly – this adds to the flavour. Remove the vegetables from the pan and place on some kitchen paper to remove any excess oil. Continue to do this in batches until all the vegetables are cooked.
Place a couple of good handfuls of the salad leaves onto two large plates. Combine the remaining olive oil with the balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper and combine briefly before pouring over the salad leaves. Toss the leaves to make sure they are coated with the dressing and then arrange the grilled vegetables and artichokes on top, followed by the Parma ham.
Using a vegetable peeler, make some parmesan shavings. Scatter these over the top of the salad and you are ready to serve.
The grilled vegetables give this salad a really unique flavour, which when combined with the saltiness of the parmesan and Parma ham, means that it doesn't need anything more than the very simple olive oil and balsamic dressing. And if you don't have a griddle pan you can do the same in the grill, or you can roast your vegetables in the oven. However you choose to create this salad, I can guarantee that you will enjoy it. Buon Appetito!