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Patrizia's Cherry Tomato Salad in a Cheese Basket

SERVES 6

Ingredients

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 head endive, leaves separated, washed and dried

1 pound uncooked, whole cherry tomatoes or larger tomatoes cut in 1-inch chunks

6 sprigs basil

1/4 pound prosciutto slices

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

Salt to taste

Directions

Heat a non-stick 10-inch sauté pan over medium low heat. Spread about 3- to 4-tablespoons of cheese in the center of the pan, making a 4- to 5-inch circle. Allow the cheese to melt, bubble and begin to brown.

Use a small spatula to carefully lift out the disk of fried cheese and immediately drape it over the top of a custard cup or inside a small ramekin — anything that will give you the shape basket you desire. As the cheese cools, it will retain the shape of the container. When slightly warm, slip the cheese off the custard cup or out of the ramekin and chill until ready to use; you may do this a day ahead of time.

In a large frying pan, fry the prosciutto slices separately until they are crisp. Carefully remove each slice from the pan and let drain on paper towels or brown paper. Set aside.

Section the tomatoes, or halve them, depending on the size, add to medium size bowl.

Combine the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add to tomatoes and toss well.

On individual salad plates, arrange a bed of endive leaves. Place the cheese basket on top of the endive and fill with tomatoes. Lay the fried prosciutto slices on top of the cheese basket, garnish with a sprig of basil and serve immediately.

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