After we enjoyed a lovely appetizer spread of bread and cheese, fresh and dried fruits, and spiced nuts at our most recent Dinner Series event, we moved onto this salad. Summer salads are often on the lighter side – given the season, it’s just not practical to load tons of hearty ingredients onto a bed of greens. This salad had the wonderful balance of being fairly light, while still packing a serious flavor punch.
The salad started with a generous bed of baby arugula and baby spinach. The greens were adorned with grilled local peaches, grilled onion rings and oven roasted strawberries. We used a basic balsamic vinaigrette to lightly dress the arugula and baby spinach, which complemented the salad flavors nicely, and then sprinkled generous chunks of candied bacon over top. It was as stunning a creation as it was flavorful.
If you’ve never tried grilling peaches – definitely do so the next time you fire up your grill. Coated with just a bit of olive oil, they take on a slightly savory flavor which is surprisingly delicious. Paired with the crunchier grilled onions, and the sweet and tender roasted strawberries, it’s really wonderful! The candied bacon – with a hint of spice from the cayenne pepper – wraps it all together.
Grilled Peach, Onion and Roasted Strawberry Salad with Candied Bacon
adapted from Food and Wine
1 pound thick-sliced bacon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 pounds Vidalia or other sweet onions, cut into 1-inch-thick slabs
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
4 large ripe peaches, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
½ pound strawberries, sliced
2-3 cups baby arugula and/or spinach, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325° F.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. Arrange the bacon slices on the sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with the brown sugar and cayenne. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until caramelized and the bacon has browned to your liking. The bacon may seem soft when it comes out, but it will caramelize as it cools. Let cool completely, then cut into bite-size pieces.
When bacon is finished, turn oven up to 375° F. Arrange strawberries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tin foil, and roast for 10-15 minutes, until completely tender and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat, turning once or twice, until softened and browned nicely on both sides — about 10 minutes. Separate the onions into rings. Brush the peaches with olive oil and grill over moderately high heat until tender, a minute or two per side. Transfer to a plate.
On a large serving platter (or in a large serving bowl), arrange the arugula and spinach in an even layer. Top with the peaches, onions, strawberries and bacon. Drizzle desired dressing over the salad, and serve.