Serves 4 to 6 as a starter course
September in California is typically bursting at the seams with sweet melons, late-season figs, and an array of herbs, vine tomatoes, and wild greens. What better than to combine them in a gorgeous composed salad? Oloroso sherry is the surprise ingredient in the dressing, enhancing the finished dish. In a pinch, use fine-quality sherry wine vinegar instead—though a little less of it—and a pinch of sugar.
Peel, seed, and thinly slice the melon (use only half if it is substantial), then arrange the slices on a large platter. Drape the prosciutto over the top and scatter with the figs, arugula, and a few leaves each of basil and spearmint, torn or slivered if they are large. Sprinkle with the almonds and a few tomatoes. Warm the sherry in a small pan over low heat for just a minute. Transfer to a small bowl, and then swirl in olive oil to taste. Drizzle over the salad. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
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