It's official: I've started getting excited about spring produce. I've been biding my time through this long, cold winter, duly eating my fair share of hearty squashes and potatoes and avoiding all thoughts of fresh, bright, green vegetables. Earlier today, as I strolled through the narrow aisles of my Brooklyn food co-op, I saw all kinds of exciting things: Asparagus. Fava beans. Watercress. Before I knew it, my cart was loaded with delicate vegetables that I could not wait to eat.
But patience can often be rewarded, and that night, instead of jumping straight into spring, I decided to give fall and winter their swan song: a light and healthy salad made with sweet roasted fennel bulbs, peppery arugula, and warm, chewy rye berries.
Rye berries—as Kenji explained during vegan month—cook up tender and nutty, with a flavor comparable to the slightly more well-known wheat berry. I had 'em on hand, but wheat berries, farro, or spelt grains will all cook up similarly, so you can feel free to use your favorite grain here. (Check out our Guide to Whole Grains for even more ideas.)
I said this salad is healthy, and it is, but I couldn't resist adding two luxurious ingredients to all the sensible grains and veggies: some rich, salty prosciutto and, well, some rich, salty pecorino cheese. Again, some more options here: if you want to, you can substitute a different style of ham, such as speck, or even beef bresaola; and, of course, grate some Parmesan in place of the pecorino if you prefer. Either way, this filling salad is a riot of flavors, textures and colors, a sure crowd-pleaser.
Even better, it holds up well to storage, so you can make it the night before and pack it away for lunch the next day.