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
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.
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.