Summer has officially been heralded in! Well, maybe not on the calendar but in my book it's here! I was at Whole Foods a few days ago and they had peaches from Georgia on sale. I bought just a few, thinking that they were some kind of "trick" peaches - I mean really, authentic southern peaches in May? Everyone knows that peach season doesn't start until June. Was someone trying to pull my leg? Well I brought them home, not expecting much, let them ripen for a few days and............... WOW, are they fantastic! I guess the warm spring that we've had here in the southeast has sped things up a bit. They are juicy, sweet and amazingly delicious! I decided to focus our dinner around these tasty delights and came up with this salad.
For the dressing I wanted something unique; it didn't take me long to find a partial jar of fig preserves hanging out in my fridge (left over from the Fig and Applewood Bacon Tartines). I used these tasty preserves in place of the honey in my Honey and White Balsamic Dressing recipe. That part was easy but I had to decide what else to include in the salad. I found some shelled pistachios in the freezer and I roasted them with a bit of agave nectar, a touch of both butter and olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and cinnamon. They
came out sweet, salty, crunchy and delicious; a match made in heaven for the wonderful Georgia peaches. I added fresh greens, thinly sliced ribbons of red onion, some drunken cranberries and a bit of crumbled bleu cheese, the result; a summery, flavorful salad. I served it with a Pita Pizza but it would also be fabulous with grilled chicken or shrimp.
Salad with Fresh Peaches, Drunken Craisins, Gorgonzola, Sweet Roasted Pistachios, with Fig & White Balsamic Vinaigrette
6 cups salad greens, your favorite or whatever looks freshest at the market
Fig & White Balsamic Vinaigrette, recipe below
2 medium ripe peaches
1/2 cup drunken dried cranberries*
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola or bleu cheese
Roasted Sweet Pistachios, recipe below
Arrange salad greens, fresh peaches, cranberries and onions on plates. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Sprinkle salads with crumbled bleu cheese and pistachios. Pass extra dressing at the table.
Serves 4 as a side salad.
Fig & White Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fig preserves
½ teaspoon sriracha chili sauce
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients in a glass jar. Shake well.
*For drunken cranberries - place 1/2 cup dried cranberries in a measuring cup. Add a tablespoons of white or red wine, Limoncello or rum . (I have also used ruby port or marsala - whatever I have around for cooking) Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 30 seconds. Let sit for a few minutes to cool. These will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, just warm in microwave for 20 seconds before using the next time.
Roasted Sweet Pistachios
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon agave syrup (or honey)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 325. Place all ingredients in a cake pan or similar size pan. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes. Turn out onto foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Cool, nuts will become crunchy as they cool.