Peach and Goat Cheese Salad with Plum Vinaigrette

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I am a vinaigrette girl.  If I go for a creamy dressing, it’s always blue cheese, but generally, I’m a vinaigrette girl.  At our house we almost always make our own dressing, and 99% of the time this means an emulsion of good olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Ingredients we always have in the house.

It being summer, when fresh peaches and plums are at their best, I ran across a peach salad with plum dressing in the August issue of Bon Appetit.  Having both on hand, I decided to give it a whirl.  The dressing was just a little more effort than our balsamic-mustard-olive oil standby, but the dressing kept well until we used all of it up.  The dressing is supposed keep for a week, but I doubt it will last that long.  As for the salad, I used goat cheese instead of blue cheese, since that is what we had on hand.  I still got the nice tang and the contrast from the sweet peaches.  I also toasted some sliced almonds from our pantry.  The result is a salad that will impress guests and feel like a treat if dinner is enjoyed alone watching the Olympics.  However you enjoy it, you may forget you are eating in.

PEACH AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD WITH PLUM VINAIGRETTE

INGREDIENTS

For the vinaigrette:

2 black plums, halved, pitted, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

For the salad:

12 cups, lightly packed, mixed greens
4 peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into eighths
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced, and rinsed with cold water
~ 6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted (HINT: It’s easy to toast the almonds in the toaster oven when you start the recipe, they’ll be cool by the time you are ready to serve)

DIRECTIONS

For the vinaigrette:

In a small saucepan, bring the chopped plums and 3/4 cup water to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring occasionally and mashing plums with the back of a spoon, until plums have completely broken down, about 15 minutes.

Pour the plum mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much purée as possible.

Discard solids in sieve.  Let the plum purée cool.

Add oil, vinegar, and 2 Tbsp. water to the purée, whisking to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Putting together the salad:

You can prepare small salad plates by dividing the greens among the plates, and scattering the peaches, onions, cheese and almonds on top, then drizzling over with the dressing.  Alternatively, you can toss the greens, peaches, onions, and almonds together with the dressing in a large salad bowl, and topping with the crumbled goat cheese.  Either way, fresh pepper on the salad is a must.

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