Sunday, August 7, 2011

Grilled Peach Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette

We took a cooking class at our co-op recently and finally learned how to grill peaches. This is important, because as far as we can tell, there was Life Before Grilled Peaches and then there is now. (Now is decidedly better, as time periods go. We have thought carefully about this, while a breeze scented with caramelized peaches wafts from the grill, and while gazing at grilled peaches, and while eating them. Mouths full, hyperventilating slightly from the big gulps of peach-scented air, we say to each other "Mrahmaba gralled pashas." And it's true. Gralled pashas are certainly mrahmaba. Just make some. You'll see.)

Here is what you do: Find some peaches that are ripe but fairly firm -- they should be fragrant, yielding a bit to pressure from your thumb, but not yet very soft. Cut each one in half along the seam (which I'm sure is not what it's actually called on a fruit, but you know what I mean). Remove the pit.

Preheat your grill to 500 degrees.* Set each peach half cut-side down in a plate of sugar, then lay face up on a plate or cutting board (or sprinkle the cut side with a little sugar, if you prefer to use a bit less). This helps the peaches caramelize later on the grill.

When the grill is hot, brush with olive oil, and place each peach half cut-side down, oriented so that the grill marks will go crosswise (perpendicular to where the seam was). Grill for 5-7 minutes until there are golden grill marks along the underside. To prevent the peaches from sticking, you can move them back and forth just a bit every couple minutes (so that they slide along the grooves of the grill marks, rather than making new marks).

Remove the peaches from the grill and let cool for a few minutes, then slice into wedges (parallel to where the seam was). You can grill these an hour or two ahead of when you want to use them, but don't slice till just before you serve (the slices get a little brown if they sit for too long).

Use to top a salad. This recipe is especially good for when you have guests and want to serve something that looks fancy but is actually pretty easy to throw together. It is also good for when you don't have guests and want to eat lots of grilled peaches.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
Pinch salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 lb mixed baby greens (or sub baby arugula if you want a bit more of a kick to it), washed and dried well in a salad spinner
1 oz mild goat cheese (e.g., North Valley Farms Chevre)
2 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted (scatter in a pan over medium heat on the stovetop and toast for a few minutes, shaking from time to time, until golden brown and fragrant.)
2 peaches, grilled and sliced as above

Whisk the oil and vinegar together to form an emulsion, then stir in the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients. Drizzle about three-quarters of the dressing over the baby greens and toss well to coat the leaves.

Serve in a big bowl or on individual salad plates. Crumble the goat cheese over the top, sprinkle with almonds, and top with the grilled peaches. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the peaches, and serve.

Serves 4.

*You can also do this in a grill pan, which is what our cooking instructor did, and she had it on medium heat.

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