I have a lot of family in Italy and have been blessed with visiting about every two to three years. My last trip was in September 2016 when I got to go with both my parents. I had only been to Italy with my dad when I was three years old and going back with him was something I had been wanting to do. When I heard my parents were going, I saw it as my opportunity and quickly hopped on board. While there, one of my cousins, an amazing cook, put together this super simple dish which completely blew us away.
Lots of cured meats are pork based, but bresaola is a cured beef. It's a lean cut of beef, cured in much the same way as prosciutto - salt and dry air. My cousins told me that when women want lose weight in Italy, called fa la dieta, they eat bresaola rather than the fattier prosciutto. I can’t vouch for its properties as a diet food, but if it's good enough for the Italians, I'll take that gamble! I have seen this more and more in the U.S. with the increased popularity of charcuterie menus and DIY charcuterie platters. You’ll likely find it at a specialty store and it costs about the same as an imported prosciutto; though there are pricier types. A half pound gets you about 25-30 slices and seeing as it's enjoyed as a delicacy not a panino filler, half a pound goes a long way.
1/2 pound thinly sliced bresaola
3 - 4 cups arugula, washed and drained
Olive oil to drizzle
Zest of half a lemon
1 - 2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
Salt to taste
Arrange 3 - 5 slices of bresaola on a plate. I recommend three slices if serving as an appetizer and five if serving as a more subtantial course. When you’re ready to serve, drizzle and dress the arugula with olive oil, salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice (if desired). I suggest going light on the salt as the bresaola is salted. Top the bresaola with a handful of the dressed arugula. Sprinkle with a few pieces of shaved parmesan. Serve with great crusty artisan bread.
In Italy, there are certain ways to eat certain dishes. A kind of food protocol, if you will. To eat this dish like an Italian, make a rollatini with each slice of bresaola by picking up the end with your fork and rolling it over the arugula. Then cut with the knife and let's eat!