I hope I’m not the only one suffering from an affliction I like to call PPS: pretty produce syndrome. Here, let me describe the symptoms and maybe they will ring a few bells. It kicks in when you are roaming the aisles of your grocery store. As you leisurely amble through the produce section, scanning the displays and sipping at your coffee, it hits. You see a pyramid of luscious, promising and, yes, pretty produce. And it’s all you can do not to grab the nearest piece of fruit in the pyramid, recklessly inviting the risk of a fruit avalanche. You know that it’s not exactly peach season yet. You know that the peaches you pile into your cart will in all likelihood disappoint you: too firm, mealy, sadly odor-free, flat. But you just can’t help yourself.
So the next thing you know, you find yourself in your kitchen feeling chagrined (I will try to eat more seasonally and locally, I will try to eat more seasonally and locally …) and, inevitably, disappointed. Because even though you were ready for the peaches, they just weren’t ready for you.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
Well, dear reader, if you too suffer from this very tragic syndrome, I have a home-brewed remedy for you. Here’s how it works: slice your pretty but premature peaches and thread them onto skewers. Drizzle them with olive oil (trust me) and a dusting of sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper. Throw them on the grill, alongside some thick slices of red onion. Meanwhile, toss your favorite greens (for me, baby arugula) in your favorite vinaigrette (in our house, that’s a dollop of Dijon mustard, a squeeze of lemon juice and a stream of olive oil) and toast up some nuts (we had some walnuts and pistachios, so I used both). Once the peaches have grilled, they’re a whole different animal: sweeter, juicier, charred in spots, and altogether more interesting. Adorn your dressed greens with these rectified peaches, the grilled onions, the toasted nuts and a crumble of cheese (salty feta cut the sweetness of the peaches quite nicely; goat cheese would be lovely too).
I’m telling you, take one and call me in the morning. It will clear your PSS right up. Or, you could just wait until the local peaches (Michigan, I’m looking at you; according to this site, your season is early July and, ahem, it’s nearly mid-July) arrive and then make this salad.
Grilled Peach, Arugula & Feta Salad
2 peaches, sliced into wedges
1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
extra virgin olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper
2 to 3 cups arugula or other greens
2 tablespoons nuts, such as pistachios and/or walnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons feta, crumbled
1/4 cup simple vinaigrette (such as this one)
Prepare the grill.
Meanwhile, thread the peaches onto metal skewers (or bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water, to prevent burning). Drizzle the peach skewers and onion slices with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes, or until both the peaches and onions are browned, turning once. Remove the peach wedges from the skewers and separate the onions into rings.
Toss the greens in the vinaigrette. Arrange the greens on plates (2 for main dish salads; 4 for side dishes). Top the greens with the peaches, onions, nuts and feta.