Right now, I’m on a peach kick. Whenever a new fruit or vegetable makes its way into the season, it feels like I’m getting a present. Peaches made their debut at the market a few weeks ago, and since then it has been a treat to eat them when they are truly at their best. What I love to do with peaches lately is throw them on the grill (Wait, what!?). If you have not grilled your peaches yet, you do not know what you are missing out on. Peaches are the perfect grilled fruit—they have just enough firmness to stand up to the grill, and yet just enough juice to nicely caramelize on the outside. Seriously, nothing says summer more than a grilled peach.
The trick to grilling your peaches is to prep them the right way. I slice each peach in half and remove the pit. I then slice a small portion of the rounded bottom off of each peach, so that they can lay flat on the grill without rolling all over the place. If you are having a hard time picturing what I am describing, the bottom of your peaches should look like this:
See how there is now a flat bottom? This will guarantee a nice caramelization on both sides of the peach. The grill really does transform the peaches. They become intensely sweet and yet they have this surprisingly smoky flavor that makes them somewhat unusual.
What I love about this salad is that it has such a nice balance of flavors. You get the slight smokiness from the charred peaches and toasted walnuts, the richness and tang from the blue cheese, the pepperiness from the arugula, and a light dressing that melds it all together. Also, I’d like to take a moment and say that if you live in Upstate SC and can get your hands on some Clemson Blue Cheese, it is an absolute must for this salad. It’s so creamy and tangy and it’s seriously the most perfect match for the grilled peaches. I served this salad for my family after a hot summer afternoon on the lake. It was extremely refreshing and still very savory and satisfying. According to my sister Erika, this salad was “the most refreshing salad I’ve had in a very long time.” Give it a try and see if you agree with her!
Grilled Peach & Arugula Salad
1 Tablespoon olive oil
5 oz arugula
4 oz blue cheese (Preferably Clemson Blue Cheese, if you can find it)
1/3 cup walnuts
For the dressing—
2 Tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ of a shallot, finely diced (around 2 Tablespoons)
1 teaspoon honey
¼ cup roasted walnut oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- To prepare the peaches for the grill, slice each peach in half and remove the pit. Slice off a small portion of the rounded bottom of each peach so that they can stand flat on a plate. Drizzle the peaches with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat the grill to medium heat (if you don’t have a charcoal or gas grill, a grill pan over the stove works fine as well). Grill the peaches, about 3-4 minutes per side, until slightly charred and caramelized. Set aside.
- Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking around occasionally, until fragrant (Around 4 minutes or so…Be careful—they burn fast!). Remove from the pan and allow them to cool for a few minutes. Roughly chop the nuts and set aside.
- To prepare the dressing: Combine the Champagne vinegar, diced shallot, Dijon, and honey in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the walnut oil until the dressing is nicely emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Prepare the salad on a large platter, starting with the arugula. Arrange the grilled peaches on top of the arugula. Crumble the blue cheese and distribute it evenly on top of the salad. Finish by topping it all off with the toasted walnuts and the dressing.