Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Stone Fruit and Arugula Salad

Your small tender leaves
Jagged and peppery recalls
Cooler days to come

Crisp, ripe stone fruits dance
with pungent cheese, hazelnuts
unexpected joy

Yes, this salad inspired haiku. Probably more if I sat and thought about it for too long. I wouldn't have put this combination together. When I think of fruits on my salads, I think strawberries, oranges, occasionally blueberries. It never occurred to be to add stone fruits like peaches, plums, and apricots. I am sure you could just choose one of the fruits and skip the others, but why?
Hazelnuts I always just paired with chocolate or raspberries or other dessert things. This combination is great.

Stone Fruit and Arugula Salad
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cooking from the Farmer's Market

2 T rice vinegar
1 t honey
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
6 c (more or less, I never measure my greens...), baby arugula
2 small firm (but yet ripe) plums, halved, pitted and sliced 1/4" thick
2 small firm (but yet ripe) apricots, halved, pitted and sliced 1/4" thick
2 small firm (but yet ripe) peaches, halved, pitted and sliced 1/4" thick
1/4 c hazelnuts
1/4 c firm blue cheese, crumbled

Toast the hazelnuts: Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place hazelnuts on rimmed baking sheet and toast 7 - 10 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant and skins flake off easily (test one or two nuts carefully). Remove from oven and dump nuts on one half a dishtowel. Fold dishtowel over to cover and roll the nuts between the top and bottom layers of the towel. Roll nuts that still have skins clinging to them between your fingers. If not all the skin comes off, that's fine, but most of the skin should. Coarsely chop skinned hazelnuts and set aside.

In a small glass jar, combine the vinegar, honey, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake vigorously until vinaigrette is emulsified. Set aside. (You can also do this by slowly drizzling olive oil into vinegar and honey, whisking constantly to emulsify. I find the shaking route much easier and more effective).

In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, fruit, and hazelnuts. Add half of the vinaigrette and toss gently. Taste and add more vinaigrette if necessary to assure the arugula is lightly coated with dressing. Sprinkle with blue cheese and serve.

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