This grilled plum, peach and pluot salad atop peppery arugula, dotted with crumbles of fig goat cheese, sprinkled with toasted pepitas, sauteed pancetta and chopped prosciutto, was exactly what the doctor ordered so to speak. Now, that’s a mouthful, figuratively and literally my friends. It was dreamy.
Food, it’s what I throw at every problem. And no, not as in, “Duck! A tomato is coming your way!”, but as in, “Here’s a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies to heal what’s ailing you.” For the most part, my kids are pretty happy with this first line of defense. I can’t tell you the number of chocolate chip cookies we have eaten while listening to the woes of the first days of school or while studying for exams.
I can hear the groans now from the uber health-conscious fans out there. Don’t worry, be happy (this is your cue to click the link and play the song in the background while reading my post); we don’t eat to oblivion and healthy food is readily available at these digs, but sometimes, just nothing else will do but something warm and comforting or sweet and chocolatey.
What the HECK is this salad doing here then in the middle of a down home comfort food revival?! Although not everyone would think of a salad as comfort food, during these hot and fairly oppressive days of summer, where last week it reached 104 degrees, it’s exactly what soothes my soul— and the creamy goat cheese in this grilled stone fruit salad certainly didn’t hurt that ol’ comforting vibe.
While I was trying to shake off some bits of the day that were weighing me down, I started to grill my plums and peaches, simmered down some lovely Blackberry Balsamic to use for the dressing and toasted the pepitas (Waaaaay cheaper than pine nuts, although if you have ‘em, you have my blessing to toss those bad boys right in…yum!). Heaviness lifted from my heart, and when I served this beauty of a salad to my hubby, and we inhaled every last morsel, practically licking the balsamic syrup-y goodness from the bottom of the bowl, I was fairly certain that a salad like this could double as comfort food any day of the week.
I hope you get a chance to try this salad before summer is gone. The sweetness of the stone fruits against the peppery arugula just sends it right over the edge to a nirvana that one usually only gets from chocolate. And I would know.
Grilled Stone Fruit and Arugula Summer Salad
The Unrecipe (amounts are a rough guidline)
arugula, two big bunches
1 pluot or other stone fruit
2 thick slices of pancetta
1/4 c. of pepitas
two handfuls of pomegranate seeds
1/3 c. crumbled goat cheese (I used fig, WOW!)
3 slices chopped prosiutto
Balsamic Syrup Dressing
2/3 c. of a sweet flavored balsamic (mine was blackberry but regular balsamic will be just fine)
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
*honey or agave added as needed if yours is too tart for your tastes
For the salad: Cut stone fruits in half. Get a grill pan nice and hot over medium-high heat. Put the stone fruits cuts-side down onto the pan. It should sizzle. Turn the stove down to medium so as not to burn the fruit. After about 30 seconds – 1 minute, flip the fruit over with tongs; just cook a few seconds on the skin side. Remove and let cool on a cutting board.
Begin to make Balsamic Syrup. In a small saucepan, pour in balsamic vinegar. Heat on medium setting and let simmer mildly while you do the rest of the salad steps. If you need to turn the heat to low to prevent a rapid simmer, then do that. You don’t want to burn your vinegar. Simmer for five minutes and then let cool in a liquid measuring cup.
In a medium saute pan, saute pepitas over medium heat. Either toss them around with a wooden spoon or flip them with a spatula every so often. They should only toast until you smell toastiness or see a tinge of light brown. They burn quickly, so don’t leave them unattended. Remove the seeds and let them cool in a bowl.
In the same saute pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat, flipping after a minute and cooking for another minute on the other side. Remove and let sit on a paper towel to absorb excess fat. Wash and dry arugula. Slice cooled stone fruits into thick slices and throw over arugula. Toss in pepitas and pomegranate seeds. Finally, chop the pancetta and prosciutto into bite-sized pieces and add to the salad along with the crumbled goat cheese.
In the liquid measuring cup with Balsamic syrup, whisk in the olive oil and add salt and pepper. Taste and if it’s too tart then add a 1/2 teaspoon of agave or honey at a time until you like it.
Drizzle balsamic dressing over plated salad. Enjoy!