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RECIPE: Prosciutto-Cucumber Roulade Appetizer

Parma ham, also known as prosciutto, is an easy ingredient for appetizers and first courses, paired with anything from melon to salads.

This recipe from Italian chef Nicola Batavia, of Birichin in Turin, has eye appeal, crunch and, the palate-pleasing prosciutto and gin!

Serve it as a first course; or instead of the salad course after the main course, with a wedge of blue cheese.

If you don’t like cucumber, you can substitute fennel.

While the recipe is simple, the cucumber needs to be prepared a day in advance.
Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3-1/2 ounces sliced Parma ham
    Parma Ham Appetizer
    Adults only: the cucumbers are marinated in gin! Photo courtesy
  • 1 cucumber, ideally English or other seedless/low seed variety
  • Sea salt
  • Gin
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional garnish: unbuttered popcorn (cute, but we substituted cubes of blue cheese)

    1. WASH the cucumber and cut it into strips. Put the strips in a container, cover with cold water and salt and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

    2. DRAIN the cucumber and immerse in gin for 2 hours.

    3. DRAIN again and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Wrap small bunches of strips into slices of Parma ham.

    4. SERVE the roulades on a plate with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and optional garnish.

    Find more Parma ham recipes at


    Prosciutto Platter
    A plate of prosciutto with traditional complements: melon, olives, cheese, pimento. Photo courtesy

    Both prosciutto (Parma ham) and Serrano hams are dry-cured: salted and hung in sheds to cure in the air. Both are served in very thin slices. (Country ham, preferred in the U.S., is smoked, and a very different style from dry-cured hams.)

    While prosciutto and Serrano hams can be used interchangeably, they are different. Prosciutto is considered more salty and fatty. Serrano is considered more flavorful and less fatty. But that’s just the beginning.

  • Prosciutto, from Italy, is cured for 10-12 months with a coating of lard.
  • Serrano, from Spain, can be cured for up to 18 months (and at the high end, for 24 months). The differing times and microclimates affect the amount of wind that dries the hams, and thus the character of the final products.
    They are also made from different breeds of pigs:

  • Prosciutto can be made from pig or wild boar, whereas Serrano is typically made from a breed of white pig.
  • The diet of the pigs differs. Parma pigs eat the local chestnuts, and are also fed the whey by-product of Parmigiano-Reggiano, made in the same area of Parma, Italy.
  • A final difference:

  • Italian-made prosciutto is never made with nitrates. American made prosciutto, as well as both domestic and Spanish Serrano-style hams, can have added nitrates.


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