This recipe was created in partnership with Prosciutto di Parma, whose cured hams I dream about on a regular basis.
It’s often the simplest things that end up blowing my mind in the kitchen.
I remember when I was down in Brazil and first learned about this bacon-wrapped hearts of palm recipe in a local cooking class. It’s two ingredients–bacon and hearts of palm–roasted in the oven for twenty minutes. And somehow the end result was so much more than the sum of its parts.
When I teach my own cooking classes, I always try to work in a variety of techniques and nutrition facts to make people feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. But again, it’s always the no-brainer, two ingredient dishes (like this lemon-tahini dressing) that end up sticking.
So it should be no surprise that when I was yet again the guest at someone else’s cooking class—this time, at Culinary Works in the exotic aisle of Connecticut—that the dish that blew me away was another three ingredient appetizer. And it should also come as no surprise that it too involved veggies in a piggy blanket.
What struck me about these prosciutto wrapped asparagus and arugula bundles was that they were such an easy (and yet not obvious) paleo bite. Usually there’s very little at a holiday party that falls into the gluten or grain-free category aside from a crudités board. But these were little salads–punched up with a squeeze of lemon, packed into a modest pouch of prosciutto–turned into finger food.
Mind blown again.
As anyone who followed my Italy travels over the summer (or has ever met me) knows, I am a big devotee of Prosciutto di Parma. It’s the real deal. And like most everything that comes out of Italy, no one does it better in the world.
So when Prosciutto di Parma asked me to come on a little adventure at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa last spring, I said: Certo!! And when they knocked on my door yet again this fall to create a holiday appetizer, I said: Bravissimo!!!
With the task at hand, I already knew what I’d make. The prosciutto and asparagus bundles that had stuck in my memory ever since I made them last fall. Only I had one improvement (in addition to adding green beans since they’re more seasonal). And that was the name.
Friends, I bring you…TWIGS IN A BLANKET.
I hope there are a few more minds blown now.
If you haven’t guessed, the recipe is incredibly simple: blanch the veggies, transfer to an ice bath, pat dry, toss with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, add arugula and then wrap in your piggy blanket of prosciutto.
You can grab the recipe below, which includes a delicious sundried tomato pesto for dipping (don’t worry it’s only 3 more ingredients, folks!!). Scroll down for the video!
With health and hedonism,
Twigs in a Blanket (Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus and Green Beans) with Sundried Tomato Pesto
For the Sundried Tomato Pesto:
- 10- ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
- 2 small cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice fresh
For the Bundles:
- 1 bunch asparagus woody bottom third of the stalks removed
- 1/2 pound green beans and/or yellow wax beans ends snipped
- Sea salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice fresh
- 1/2 pound Prosciutto di Parma thinly-sliced
- 4 cups baby arugula leaves loosely packed (half a 5-ounce bag)
- Make the Pesto: Transfer the contents of the sun-dried tomato jar (olive oil and all) into a small food processor. Add the garlic and chili flakes. Puree until smooth, adding more olive oil if necessary, until the tomato mixture is the texture of a very thick pesto. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl or an airtight container. The pesto can be made up to a week in advance.
- Make the Bundles: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once bubbling, add a generous tablespoon of salt. Blanch the asparagus and green beans until vibrant in color but still quite firm, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and transfer immediately to a large bowl of ice water. When the veggies have cooled to room temperature, drain again and pat dry with a dish towel.
- On a rimmed baking sheet, season the dried asparagus and green beans with salt and pepper, and toss with the olive oil and lemon juice.
- On a clean work surface, lay a piece of Prosciutto di Parma flat. Depending on the size of your asparagus and beans, fold the piece in half widthwise so that the width is smaller than your stalks. On the thicker end, place a small handful of arugula and top it with 4 to 5 veggie pieces. Roll the prosciutto tightly. Repeat with the remaining meat and veggies. Serve the twigs in a blanket immediately with the sundried tomato pesto on the side for dipping.