zoom Diana Henry's dry cured ham on sourdough with bitter leaves

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    Diana Henry's dry cured ham on sourdough with bitter leaves

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    Diana Henry's dry cured ham on sourdough with bitter leaves

    I’m very fond of the ‘a little something on bread’ starter. They’re easy and casual and the bread provides a base for strong flavours. Use slices of sourdough that aren’t too big – it’s just a starter and you have quite a filling main course – and buy a whole curly lettuce. You won’t use all of it (keep the rest for another meal) but whole heads have such a good flavour.

    • Preparation time: 15 minutes
    • Cooking time: 5 minutes

    Serves: 8


    • 1 curly lettuce
    • 8 slices sourdough bread (not too big and not too thick)
    • 16 slices dry cured ham such as Parma or Serrano ham

    • 1½ tsp Dijon mustard
    • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
    • 150-175ml extra virgin olive oil
    • Pinch sugar (optional)
    • 30g shallots (about 1), peeled and very finely chopped


    1 To make the dressing, put the mustard, vinegar and some seasoning into a small bowl and whisk in the olive oil with a fork. The mixture should emulsify. You may not need to add all the oil – always taste it, as the amount you add depends on the acidity of the vinegar you’ve used and even on the Dijon mustard, so adjust accordingly (and tweak the seasoning too if you need to). Add a pinch of sugar as well if needed. Add the shallots and leave to sit for a while so they soften and flavour the vinaigrette.

    2 For the leaves, concentrate on the paler green and yellow leaves (the coarse outer ones can be used for soup – they make a good potato and bitter leaf soup when made with lots of olive oil and garlic). Remove enough of the smaller leaves to provide a small salad for each serving. Wash the leaves and gently pat dry with a clean tea towel.

    3 Toast the bread. Spoon some of the dressing and shallots onto each slice – be generous (but don’t use it all, you need some for the leaves). The dressing should soak into the bread a little. Toss the leaves with some more of the dressing. Top each slice of toast with some leaves (they can tumble off the edges) and furls of ham. Grind on some black pepper and serve.

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