Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summertime salads

I know how to use the "close-up" function on my cheapo Kodak camera. No, no, applause isn't necessary.

When I think of summer foods, I picture fresh produce. I imagine the farmer's market downtown on Saturdays with vendors selling organic greens and berries, fresh seeded bread and eggs from free-range hens. I think of the small produce stands on the highway in Maryland and Delaware on my way home from the beach. "Sweet corn in 1/2 a mile!" signs sing. "Local peaches straight ahead!"

With all this garden-friendly roughage, my appetite inevitably veers to salads. Aren't they incredibly versatile? A plate of greens cries out for ground beef and Colby Jack when it's a taco salad, or slivered almonds and Mandarin oranges for more Asian fare. A summer salad needs berries or tomatoes from the garden.

This evening I altered a recipe found in Real Simple. It's a classic summertime salad: mixed greens dressed with rich olive oil and balsamic vinegar, topped with grilled caramelized red onion and grilled sweet peaches with creamy Gorgonzola and toasted pecans, with a grilled chicken breast on the side. It was savory with the slightest sweetness from the peaches, and buttery-rich from the olive oil. It was also damn easy, and made for a glossy magazine pretty picture.

A Summertime Salad with Peaches, Pecans, and Panache
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • mixed greens (for 4)
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 ripe peaches, cut into wedges
  • toasted pecans (optional)
  • 1 extra large red onion, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • Gorgonzola cheese, for sprinkling
Heat grill to medium-high. Brush the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, toss the onions with additional olive oil and salt and pepper.

There is nothing sexier than a man smacking raw chicken with a rolling pin. In this candid pic, our viewer sees Matt flattening chicken breasts for even grilling. Whatta hunk.

The onion and peaches drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. (And awaiting the grill.)

Grill the chicken and onions until the chicken is cooked through and the onions are tender, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Grill the peaches until charred, 2 minutes per side.

Don't let this happen to you!!! We ran out of propane in the middle of cooking. I am conveniently blaming Matt for this. Here he is doing the walk of shame...to the gas station for another canister.

Since I had an extra twenty minutes due to the above-mentioned episode, I decided to add some toasted pecans to the salad (the original recipe did not use nuts). To toast, simple drizzle some buttah on pecans and roast them on a cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes or until they're aromatic and nutty. DO NOT eat straight out of the oven. You will burn your tongue. Penny and I know that now.

Here's Matt's hairy arm checking the chicken temperature with a meat thermometer. Cook chicken to 165 degrees.

Peaches before.

And after.

Toss the mixed greens with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Top with grilled onions and peaches, Gorgonzola, and pecans (if desired). Serve with the chicken.

Serves 4.

I'm loving the foodie colors: purple, peach, green, rich brown...eat up!!


  1. Wow that looks delicious, and sounds like food my fussy stomach could deal with! I'm going to have to try that sometime soon. By the way, hi from one of your lurker-watchers. :)

  2. mmm, all of your recipes look delicious! i will finally be trying the curry chicken this weekend when i go food shopping. I am going to try the aioli sauce too. Looks great! I love it when you become a foodie.

  3. Hi Ragamuffin! Thank you for visiting! And you're from Australia! My husband's father is a native Australian, from Melbourne! I have not been yet, but am excited to visit. I'll be most definitely catching up on your blog too. The salad is yum! And just so easy. I just go easy on the cheese (mmm...cheese...).

    The curry chicken is a blog favorite; several folks have made it, so you're in good company! Send me any good recipes you have - I'm game to try almost anything!