This is my favorite peach salad recipe. It pairs grilled peaches with arugula, walnuts and Spanish cheese. Makes for a tantalizing, bright flavored summer salad.
You'll need fresh, ripe peaches, which we have thanks to a friend who brought us a basket from Stonewall. Thanks, D! And some tangy Spanish cheese, like Cabrales or Valdeon. Cabrales is a strong, spicy blue cheese made from cow, sheep and goat's milk. It is semi-soft and has a somewhat grainy, crumbly texture. It's for true blue cheese lovers. Valdeon is a rich, creamy cow and goat's milk blue cheese. It's milder than Cabrales and has fewer veins.
I've made this salad with both and prefer the Valdeon. It still has the little bit of bite and contrast that you want with the sweetness of the peaches, but isn't overwhelming.
I couldn't find any Valdeon this time, so I tried something new, Murcia Curado. It's a semi-hard Spanish goat cheese. It had a wonderful flavor, a little tangy, but still mild and buttery. I'd love to try it again with fruit. But with this salad, it wasn't quite strong enough. The salad seemed a little flat without the tang of the stronger cheese. Next time, I'll stick with the Valdeon or Cabrales.
One note, I'm usually not a big fan of walnuts because of their bitter skin. But if you toast them briefly and then crumble them, the skins will slide right off, like hazelnuts, but much easier. Without their skins, the bitterness is gone and they have a wonderful warm, nutty flavor which is great in this salad.
We had this as dinner with some roasted chicken. If you want to have it as a small salad, you could probably serve four instead of two.
Grilled Peach Salad
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted, crumbled and skins removed
6 freestone peaches, peeled (if not organic), halved and pitted
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
salt and pepper
4 ounces arugula
2-3 ounces Spanish blue cheese (Cabrales or Valdeon), crumbled
Brush the peaches with one tablespoon olive oil and grill (fire grill or grill pan) for 2-3 minutes on each side. You want them slightly softened and lightly browned. Let cool and set aside. Cut into slices, if you have large peaches.
In a large bowl, combine sherry vinegar, two tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper. (Keep in mind, the cheese is salty.) Whisk together.
Add arugula to bowl and toss to coat evenly with dressing.
Divide arugula among serving plates. Top with peaches and walnuts. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.
Serves 2 generously.
Adapted from Food & Wine.