TasteFood

Italian rolls a fun start for summer

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Prosciutto rolls are a fresh and fun start to a summery meal. The method to make them is inspired by Vietnamese spring rolls, which are packed with fresh herbs and crisp vegetables and wrapped in rice paper. These rolls are equally fresh and raw, but with an Italian twist. Salty, savory prosciutto replaces the rice paper and bundles up crisp fennel, arugula leaves, fresh mint and piquant Parmesan shards.

You can serve the rolls as a bright appetizer or as part of a small-plate meal. They do take time to assemble, but you can prepare them up to four hours in advance. Make sure that your filling ingredients are chopped and gathered before you begin rolling for ease of preparation. I prefer to halve the prosciutto slices lengthwise to make smaller bites. If you use an entire piece of prosciutto for each roll, then you will need to increase the amount of filling ingredients to offset the salt and meatiness of the prosciutto.

Once you get the hang of making these rolls, you can fiddle with the ingredients to your liking. The important thing to remember is to provide crunchy, fresh textures in the filling. You don’t want the rolls to be too flabby or gooey. Include crisp and leafy ingredients for structure and freshness, and to balance the soft, salty prosciutto. I’ve included several ingredient variations below.

Prosciutto Rolls With Arugula, Fennel and Mint

Active time: 40 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Yield: Makes 8 large or 16 small rolls

8 slices prosciutto

Extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Finely grated lemon zest from one lemon

2 cups (packed) arugula leaves

2 medium fennel bulbs, cores and fronds removed, bulbs halved lengthwise, each half thinly sliced lengthwise

4 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

16 medium-large mint leaves

For a smaller roll, halve the prosciutto slices lengthwise, so you will have 16 strips, each about 1 inch wide.

Place one strip of prosciutto on a work surface, with a short end closest to you. Lightly brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with black pepper and a pinch of lemon zest. Lay 4 to 6 arugula leaves, horizontally, at the base. Place a few shards of fennel and Parmesan over the arugula. Top with a mint leaf. Roll up from the base, wrapping the prosciutto tightly around the vegetables, and continue to roll, placing 1 or 2 additional arugula leaves in the fold as you roll up. Place the roll seam side down on a platter.

Repeat with remaining ingredients. The rolls may be prepared up to four hours in advance. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let them stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Before serving, lightly spritz with olive oil or lemon juice, if desired.

Ingredient variations:

Baby spinach, sweet pepper, goat cheese, melon, mozzarella cheese, fig, brie cheese, rosemary, shredded radicchio, pear, manchego cheese, parsley

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