It is time to take a break from boring same same salads. Time to mix it up. On a smaller level, like taking a vacation to gain a new perspective. And so I have adapted a recipe from the cookbook, "Ottolenghi" by Yom Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, and renamed their version, Grilled Peach Salad with Orange Blossom.
Their salad featured speck, but since I tend to eat little meat, I left that part out. I decided that if I want to add protein to this recipe, I can always add nuts and seeds, or beans like garbanzos or lentils, or cheese.
The summer lettuces at the farmers' markets have various and colorful. They needed nothing more than a little olive oil and lemon juice or some vinegar to dress them up, to be perfect just the way they are. But after weeks of simplicity, let's be a bit more complex with our salads. Build a foundation with baby chard leaves, watercress and endive. And then surprise your taste buds with a dressing that features some orange-blossom water. It does not take much time to replicate this Grilled Peach Salad with Orange Blossom. And if it is to your liking, go with the original recipe and add in about 10 to 12 slices of thinly sliced spec.
I have heard of rose water, often used in baking, but was totally unfamiliar with orange blossom water. Luckily, there is a mid-eastern food store in my neighborhood, which carried this item. I also googled it and found that Whole Foods carries it as well, so it is not as obscure as I imagined. In a pinch, you may just grate some orange zest and add 3 tablespoons of water to the dressing to compensate for the flavor and volume of the orange blossom water.
The orange blossom water has an almost overpowering aroma. But cut into the other ingredients including balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil, the essence is tamed and makes a perfect compliment to the grilled peaches that grace this salad. Nothing says summer like a perfectly ripe grilled peach.
Grilled Peach Salad with Orange Blossom
Ottolenghi and Tamimi describe this salad as "summer bliss, offering contrasting textures and aromas," and I could not agree more. I used white doughnut peaches and they were the best choice when I shopped for my ingredients, but yellow peaches would add a deeper lovelier color to this salad. You may also skip the grilling step completely and just add raw peach segments to cut down on the prep time and clean up afterwards.
- 5 ripe peaches
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 red or white endives, leaves separated
- 1-¾ oz watercress
- 1-¾ oz baby chard leaves
- coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp orange blossom water
- 1 tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 3 tbsp olive oil
Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Slice each half into 3 wedges, place in a bowl, and add the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Toss well to coat them.
Place a ridged grill pan over high heat and leave for a few minutes so it heats up well. Place the peach wedges on the pan and grill for a minute on each side. You want to get nice charcoal lines on all sides. Remove the peaches from the pan and leave to cool.
To make the dressing place the orange blossom water, vinegar, and maple syrup in a bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle the oil in slowly while you whisk to get a thick dressing. Season to taste.
On a serving platter, arrange layers of peach, endive, watercress, chard and speck. Spoon over enough dressing to coat all the ingredients but not to drench them. Serve straight away.