Spinach Salad with Grilled Peaches

“Writing that article on the peach farm might’ve been the best career move you’ve ever made,” Joe told me last Saturday when I came home from the farmers market.  I’d just walked through the door, struggling under the weight of a large box of peaches, my biceps on fire from carrying them home. My friends at Tory Farms had once again SO generously given me a literal armload of peaches: this week, a mixture of tart Diamond Princess and succulent Sweet Scarlets.

“I’ve got one full flat left,” Tory Sr. had told me just minutes earlier at the market, “Do you have something to do with all of them?” 

In my mind, I knew Joe was on a diet, so delectable baked goods like cobblers and crisps were probably out, unless I wanted to consume the entire thing myself (an option only when it’s NOT bikini season).  But I knew straight away there would be no refusing, no questioning — you just don’t turn down a flat of peaches.  You find something to do with them, come hell or high water.  I’d happily and gratefully accepted the fruit from Tory Sr, and flounced home.

So here I was tonight, a good 15 peaches still leftover from Saturday, quickly ripening and needing to be consumed.  My solution?  Spinach salad with grilled peaches and bacon.  Sweet + salty + smoky + bitter = an amazing warm summer salad.  It didn’t use up all the peaches, but it’s another 2 resting peacefully in my belly.  Recipe and photos after the jump.

Spinach salad with grilled peaches, bacon and balsamic glaze vinaigrette

  • 4 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 1/2 small head radicchio, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • few sprigs fresh lemon thyme
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • –kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 strips good quality bacon (I like Prather Ranch’s bacon — it’s ridiculously expensive, but worth every penny, especially since the hogs are all pasture raised.  The bacon comes out tasting creamy — really!  It’s just so delicious, and so decadent.)
  • 2 tbsp canola oil, or vegetable oil
  • 2 ripe Sweet Scarlet peaches, or other freestone white-fleshed peach, halved and pit removed

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Combine the spinach, shallot and the radicchio in a large bowl, and toss to evenly distribute.

getting mise en place together for the salad...
getting mise en place together for the salad...

In a small saucepan, heat the balsamic vinegar and the sugar until the mixture is simmering.  Reduce by half.  While the mixture is reducing, strip the lemon thyme of its leaves, and place them in a small bowl.  Once the balsamic mixture has reduced, pour it directly into the bowl, over the lemon thyme.  The heat will help steep the leaves.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, add in the water, then set aside to cool.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or tin foil.  Lay the strips of bacon on it, then bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked all the way through.  It should have shrunk in size quite noticeably.  Remove from the baking sheet and set on paper towels to drain.  You may need to dab the bacon with another sheet of paper towel to absorb any excess grease.

While the bacon cooks, heat a small grill pan over medium high heat, and brush it lightly with the canola oil.  Once hot, grill the four peach halves until the cut side is browned with grill marks.  Remove from the grill and set aside.

To plate, whisk the olive oil into the cooled balsamic-thyme mixture until it’s well emulsified.  Pour the dressing over the greens, tossing to coat.  Mound the greens up on your serving platter or plate.  Chop the bacon into large pieces, then sprinkle over the salad.  Garnish with the peach halves and serve.

Reducing the balsamic for the vinaigrette
Reducing the balsamic for the vinaigrette
Gorgeous lemon thyme
Gorgeous lemon thyme
Peach perfection
Peach perfection
No, really.  DELISH.
No, really. DELISH.

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