Grilled Green Beans Wrapped in Serrano Ham with Toasted Almond Dressing and Manchego Cheese

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I would hate to have to choose between Spanish ham, American country ham, or Italian hams like prosciutto, but if I had to, I’d pick the Spanish hams produced from its black-footed pigs who feed upon acorns: jamon jabugo. If you can’t find that or the Spanish serrano, use prosciutto. This dish makes a wonderful snack or light first course.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound thin French green beans (haricots verts)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 slices serrano ham or prosciutto, cut into paper-thin slices
  • ½ pound tango lettuce or mixed lettuces

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup whole natural almonds (skins on)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh shallots
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • cup diced (¼-inch) Manchego cheese

Method

Line up the beans and cut off both ends, making even lengths about 3 inches long. Boil in a large pot of heavily salted boiling water for 3 minutes, or until the beans are crisp-tender. Drain and refresh in a bowl of ice water; drain and pat dry.

Arrange the beans in 12 equal piles. Season them with salt and pepper. Wrap each pile in a slice of the ham.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Spread out the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring them up once, until fragrant and browned, 8 to 12 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

To make the dressing, mix the shallots, lemon juice, and white balsamic and champagne vinegars in a medium bowl with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Add the herbs, chopped almonds, and Manchego cheese.

Grill or broil the wrapped beans, under medium heat, turning, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the beans are tender and the ham is lightly browned.

To serve, crisscross 2 bean bundles on each plate. Dress the lettuce with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and arrange in equal piles on each plate. Spoon the remaining dressing over the bean bundles and around the plates.

One of my key restaurant peeves [is] undercooked vegetables. You have to cook vegetables in a lot of boiling salted water, in enough water so that the water comes back to the boil very quickly after the vegetables have been added.

Nancy Oakes

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