Would you be upset if I told you that we now have fresh peaches at our local farmer’s market? I know, it seems unfair, but here in Southern California, not only is there a veritable deluge of strawberries, but in the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen apricots, nectarines, peaches, and plumcots start to trickle in, not to mention cherries and blueberries. Yes, my favorite season at the farmer’s market is here.
But being a native Northeasterner, I am all too aware that many of the rest of you are unlikely to see a freshly picked peach for several months to come. Tragic, it’s true, but fear not, as this simple little salad recipe uses dried peaches (available at Trader Joe’s and elsewhere) to great effect, rehydrating them in red wine and orange juice until they’re sweet and succulent. Not quite the same as a fresh peach, I’ll admit, but the juicy little slivers were pretty delicious. The rest of the salad, a variation on my beloved
fruit-nut-cheese combo, was good, if not entirely memorable, but I’ll certainly hold on to the dried peach trick and use it again once the summer bounty is over.
Spinach, Peach and Walnut Salad (serves 4)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup red wine
4 dried peaches, cut into bite-sized slivers
About 6 cups washed baby spinach or arugula
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 ounce soft, mild goat cheese
1. Bring the orange juice and red wine to a boil and simmer the peach slivers until soft and plump – at least 15 minutes. The red wine mixture should also reduce considerably.
2. Toss the spinach with the toasted walnuts and scallions.
3. Remove the peaches from the wine mixture, drain, and toss with the salad. Make sure the wine has reduced at least by half – if not, let it simmer a little while longer. Whisk with the olive oil and vinegar and taste. Pour over the salad and toss with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Divide among four bowls, crumble a little cheese over top, and serve.