Last of my Summer Salads?
Labor Day passed this past weekend. Summer is unofficially over, but I’m not quite ready to put summer to rest. Seeing the assortment of the most beautiful peaches on my Saturday trip to Shady Crest Farm Store, my local farmer’s market “store,” I’m now feeling even more confident that I can make summer S-T-R-E-T-C-H. And this recipe for Spinach and Peach Salad with Pesto Dressing will definitely help that stretching along.
Shady Crest seems to have everything a cook could need. Living in a small rural farm community, a store like this one comes in super handy. After walking through the aisles of utensils, bags of bulk foods, and beautiful produce, I left the store with a variety of peaches. All stages of ripeness could be found in my bag of peaches. A combination perfect for lasting through the week.
I’m admitting that my willpower slipped just a little. I did get a smidge of fudge (the smallest box they sell). The fudge counter caught my attention while on display near the checkout line. Great positioning of homemade goodies!
But I proudly walked past the selection of my husband’s favorite homemade ice cream. Good thing he wasn’t along this trip or I’d be caving.
I’d like to say it’s because of my strong willpower, but really it was only because the line was too long to wait in. The Arthur Cheese Festival was taking place, and the store was jam packed with customers. And they must have all showed up for ice cream. And who could blame them. Man that’s some GOOD stuff. And those ladies behind to counter scooping it up? They really know how to pack a cone full.
Anyway, when I got home I immediately started looking for recipes for something to make with my newly purchased peaches. I didn’t need any more dessert since I bought homemade fudge. Some kind of salad using peaches was what I had in mind. I came up with a few recipes that I combined into what finally morphed into a Spinach and Peach Salad with Pesto Dressing. I’m hoping peaches will be around long enough to take me and this salad into the fall season.
For the Love of the Peach
The peaches are indeed the highlight of this this Spinach and Peach Salad with Pesto Dressing. But oh my gosh the Pesto Dressing! It has some REAL spoon-lickin’ goodness to it. And despite my absent green thumb, I do have an abundance of basil in my teeny tiny herb garden and some mint that seems to be taking over everything it touches. So making the Pesto dressing was a cinch. I also think a good bottled poppy seed dressing would be equally delicious when basil isn’t handy in a few more weeks.
Broccoli Meet your cousin Arugula
I used the combination of spinach and arugula I’ve been finding this mixture at Aldi and Walmart just to get some of the benefits of arugula in my diet.
Did you know arugula is a cruciferous vegetable? I did not! I’m happy to be adding it to my diet.
Arugula has all of the of the same anti-cancer, anti-heart/brain disease, anti-diabetes, anti-inflammation promoting benefits of its cousins (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower). I do have to say arugula does a real bitter bite to it, but mixed in with spinach, its goes almost unnoticed. It even adds a little character to its spinach partner.
All I can say is there’s a bunch of healthy going on with this salad.
And Don’t Forget the Cheese, Nuts and BACON!
Topping the Spinach and Peach Salad with either crumbled feta (if you’re not sodium conscious) or crumbled goat cheese (if you are) along with a few dried cranberries, kicks things up a notch on the deliciousness scale. Feta makes the salad a little more salt, but I really love the cream texture of the goat cheese crumbles, too. Decisions, decision.
I also used some of my fav Trader Joes Candied Pecans. The ones with a little spicy added to the sweet coating. Oh yum yum. Whatever leftover (?) nuts I have will be perfect for a midday snack very soon.
And one last ingredient, that’s optional of course, would be BACON! Just a slice or two, cooked to a crisp and crumbled. It knocks a few points off the healthy meter, but does take this salad to a whole new level of deliciousness.
Spinach and Peach Salad with Pesto Dressing
- 1/2 cup walnuts (divided--use half for salad)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 2-3 mint leaves (optional)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice 1 small lemon
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 2 1/2 cups spinach or mixed greens
- 2 peaches, peeled and sliced
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced or diced
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1-2 slices bacon, cooked crisp (optional)
- In a food processor or blender, COMBINE half of the walnuts, basil, mint (if using), olive oil, lemon and honey.
- In a medium size bowl, MIX greens with half of the dressing. GENTLY MIX in peaches, avocado, red onion, remaining walnuts with the rest of the dressing. SPRINKLE top with feta/goat cheese, cranberries and bacon. SERVE.
- Instead of making your own dressing, you can also use a bottled poppy seed dressing, which also tastes really good.
- You can swap the walnuts for either pecans or sliced almonds, roasting makes them even better (just heat them in a pan for a few minutes) or even better, because I like sweet, some type of “candy-coated” pecans or walnuts taste delicious.