We went to Sag Harbor to our friends’ beach house for the 4th of July last summer, and my friend Danelle made a whole bunch of great salads using local, farm-fresh produce that everyone enjoyed all weekend. One of the highlights for me was an arugula salad that she made with pecorino cheese and perfectly ripe peaches (the kind that make you realize that fruit can taste better than candy for the fleeting time when they are in season). I loved the combination of peppery arugula and sweet peaches, and the cheese added a nice bit of saltiness to the salad. I also loved that the salad was as healthy as it was delicious. So when I was thinking of a special salad to serve as the main dish for the ladies night garden party that I hosted for my book club, I decided to make Danelle’s arugula and peach salad. I added grilled chicken sprinkled with vanilla bean sea salt to make it more of an entree, and it was a huge hit.
The recipe includes my favorite go-to balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. I make the vinaigrette almost every week and keep a jar of the dressing in my fridge to use throughout the week. You can use any leftover vinaigrette tossed with greens or quinoa and chopped veggies, or as a marinade for chicken or grilled veggies (I especially like it on portobello mushrooms).
I have since made arugula and peach salad for a picnic by packing the vinaigrette in a small jar, keeping the add-ins separate from the arugula, and tossing it once we were ready to eat. This arugula and peach salad would also make a great dish for a bridal or baby shower.
Make this salad in the summer or early fall, when peaches are at their best.
- 1 lb. chicken breast cutlets, sliced thin
- 5 oz arugula
- 2 ripe peaches, sliced thin
- 2 oz. pecorino cheese, grated or cut into wedges
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean sea salt (can use Maldon sea salt or Kosher salt as a substitute)
- 2/3 C. olive oil
- 1/3 C. balsamic vinegar
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 tsp. dijon mustard
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Sprinkle chicken with vanilla bean sea salt (or other salt). Grill over high heat for 3 minutes; flip and cook other side for 2 minutes, or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. Cool for 5 minutes covered loosely with tin foil, then slice into strips.
- Blend garlic in food processor to mince. Add oil, vinegar, mustard and lemon juice and blend until smooth.
- Toss arugula with dressing and grated cheese. Top with sliced peaches and chicken and toss to combine.
The balsamic vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the fridge.