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This sweet and salty salad celebrates the last days of summer with grilled peaches and creamy blue cheese drizzled with tangy honey vinaigrette.
We had friends from Long Island visiting us down at the shore this past weekend. It was the perfect storm of great weather, flowing cocktails and the kids playing so hard in the surf that they could barely keep their eyes open for dinner; all resulting in pure summer bliss. The next morning the house was quiet and I skipped my morning walk in favor of an extra hour of sleep. I woke to the smell of coffee brewing and it practically led me out by the nose, just like an old Tom and Jerry episode that I would watch over and over as a kid.
I saw that one of our guests made it out of the house early and came back loaded down with breakfast rations. Bagels, bacon, eggs and of course pork roll, a New Jersey staple. I got to cracking the eggs and heating up the skillets and realized he brought back enough pork roll to feed our entire block. I laughed and asked him if he thought the cast of the Sopranos was coming for breakfast and he said he’d been thinking about pork roll since his last visit and he was getting his Jersey fix while he could.
See, Jersey does certain things very, very well. And yes, pork roll is one.
We have Bruce, Paul Simon and old Blue Eyes himself.
New Jersey can also lay claim to Meryl Streep, Danny Devito and even a young Kevin Spacey. (Spacey was born in my current hometown of South Orange and I still count him as Jersey even though he moved away before kindergarten.)
We have the stunning Jersey shore, Tony Soprano and Thomas Edison.
And of course, most importantly to a food obsessed girl like myself, we have Jersey tomatoes, corn and juicy, sweet peaches.
I try to buy locally whenever I can. I make an effort to shop local merchants and mom and pop’s for gifts and housewares. And I especially try to buy local, farm-raised food and produce whenever I can. I found the most glorious New Jersey peaches at a farm stand this weekend and filled my bag. We used the bulk of them for snacking and breakfast, but the rest found their way into our dinner salad.
I grilled the peaches and finished them with brown sugar mixed with a splash of white wine vinegar and a drizzle of honey. They took center stage and were complimented by crispy, salty pancetta and creamy blue cheese over a bed of mixed greens. The greens were dressed by a simple honey vinaigrette and those gorgeous peaches were plucked off the grill and the blue cheese crumbles melted just enough on their warm surface to create the most perfectly creamy, salty, sweet bite.
This salad is my summer swan song. It celebrates New Jersey’s finest and my warm weather prized possession, my grill. It’s a delicious starter or can hold it’s own as a light summer meal. And, best part, after a nice light dinner like this, you’ll have plenty of room the next morning for a hearty pork roll filled breakfast. Yay for Jersey!
- 8 thin rounds pancetta 2 oz or four slices bacon
- 2 peaches halved and pitted
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp white wine or champagne vinegar
- 1/3 cup creamy blue cheese crumbled
- 2 tsp honey
- 5 oz salad greens
- 2 Tbsp chives minced
- Honey Vinaigrette
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp white wine or champagne vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Honey Vinaigrette: Whisk the honey, mustard and vinegar together. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
Grilled Peach Salad: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the pancetta slices on a baking sheet lined with a sheet of parchment paper and cook (flipping once) for about 10 minutes or until browned and crispy.
Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and drain.
Preheat a grill to medium/high heat and rub the peach halves with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill the peaches, cut side down for 3-4 minutes or until you have nice grill marks and then carefully turn them over.
Mix together the brown sugar and vinegar and place a small spoonful on top of each peach halve as it grills. Cover and continue to grill an additional 4 minutes.
Remove from heat, top with blue cheese and drizzle with honey.
Toss the greens with vinaigrette to taste and arrange peaches and pancetta slices over the top.
Sprinkle with chives and additional vinaigrette if desired and serve.