On Tuesday, November 11, 2013 I had the honor of attending an invite-only event hosted at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College by the Legends from Europe. The Legends from Europe include the producers of Grana Padano, Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Parmigiano Reggiano and Montasio. Together, they presented a seminar about their fine products. All of the products presented by the Legends from Europe are regional specialties and have the coveted PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) certification from the European Union. PDO certifies their authenticity and their strictly defined geographic regions.
The seminar included cooking demonstrations by award-winning author, Chef Mary Ann Esposito. Mary Ann Esposito is the creator and host of the PBS Series, Ciao Italia, seen nationally and internationally. Ciao Italia is the longest running cooking series in America.
The evening’s seminar, led by Chef Mary Ann Esposito, who was assisted by students from The Restaurant School, included preparation of six items, ranging from appetizers to entrees to salad. First up was a Spuma di Prosciutto di San Daniele and Grana Padano followed by a Cheese Tart, Frico, Rolled Stuffed Chicken Cutlets with Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di San Daniele Roll-Ups and lastly a Butternut Squash and Pear Salad with Grana Padano.
Each course was demonstrated by Chef Esposito followed by a tasting which included with specially selected paired wines.
Of the recipes presented by Chef Esposito the one I thought you would enjoy most was the Butternut Squash and Pear Salad with Grana Padano.
Butternut Squash and Pear Salad with Grana Padano
- 1 butternut squash peeled cut in half lengthwise, seeded then cut into thin long slices, about 1/4-inch thick
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Anjou Pears not too ripe, cut in half, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch thick crosswise slices
- 1 small head radicchio shredded
- 4 ounce wedge Grana Padano shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 1 bottle aged Balsamic vinegar
- Salt to taste
- Brush the squash slices with olive oil and either grill or roast them. Brush the pear slices with olive oil; arrange in a non-stick backing dish and bake them until soft and slightly browned (350 degrees F).
- In a bowl toss the radicchio with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 2 teaspoons of the vinegar. Salt to taste.
- To serve, arrange the radicchio on four salad plates. Layer a few slices of the squash, pears and Grana Padano over the radicchio. Drizzle with the vinegar and serve.
The Butternut Squash and Pear Salad with Grana Padano is so colorful and the ingredients are very much in season this time of the year. Many of us at the event even thought this salad would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving menu.
Aren’t the colors just gorgeous? If you are looking for something a little different on this year’s holiday menu, I would totally suggest Chef Mary Ann Esposito’s Butternut Squash and Pear Salad with Grana Padano. Magia!
I was invited to the event and was treated to a tasting plus a giveaway bag filled with an assortment of prosciutto and cheeses. Opinions are my own.