I don't know if you're aware, but it gets really hot in Texas. We have about 3 weeks of spring, and then we're talking 106F by the beginning of June. There have been some legendary summers where temperatures were in triple digits for 3 months straight.... at least that's what I've been told by the locals; I haven't seen it yet, but I believe it. I certainly believe it.
Lucky for us (and a lot of places in the US) the heat of summer produces some of the juiciest, most magically dripping-down-your-chin peaches. In Texas Hill Country, there is a mix of wineries specializing in rose that are surrounded by orchards of the best peaches you'll taste (sorry, Georgia, it's true) The skin is thin, and the flesh is supple, and the juice drips into your mouth like.... (let's leave it there. I don't want to make this into 50 Shades of Peaches)
Now, I'm not saying that I don't like peach cobbler, but my favorite way to enjoy a summer peach on a hot summer day is frozen and dropped into a drink like ice - sparkling water, sparkling wine, iced tea ; or even just sitting in the backyard and munching on some frozen local peaches.
While, yes, frozen peaches are my favorite, this salad is a very close second. I first had a salad of similar context at a fantastic restaurant here in Austin called Sour Duck Market. It was stellar, and I decided to recreate it with a few changes to make it my own.
As long as you get really fresh, really ripe peaches, the skin should be soft and thin enough that you don't have to remove it. It's your choice. There are a lot of fun changes and additions you can make to this salad, too:
Trade goat cheese for feta
Trade tarragon for torn fresh basil or fennel fronds (the top fluffy part of fennel, pulled of into individual little eyelash-looking bits)
Summer Peach and Goat Cheese Salad
ripe, juicy summer peaches, pitted and cut into medium-sized chunks
pistachios, chopped or quickly pulsed in a food processor
mint leaves, fresh
green peppercorns in brine, drained and chopped (can be found on Amazon, Whole Foods, fancy grocery stores and speciaty shops)
whole fat plain yogurt
extra virgin olive oil
minced shallot (do not replace with dried onion)
Put salad ingredients in large bowl together. Mint and tarragon can be strong, so be delicate with how much you put in. Don't be afraid of the peaches, pistachios and goat cheese.
Add all dressing ingredients to a squeeze bottle or glass jar with ratio of 1/4 oil to 3/4 yogurt, with a dainty amount of green peppercorn and shallots. Shake furiously until blended and emulsified, and adjust to taste. If sweetness needed, add small dollops of honey, one at a time until desired taste.
Pour dressing over salad and mix together, using your hands to help coat the leaves with dressing and goat cheese, careful not to bruise the leaves. Add dressing slowly until the salad is well coated.
Chill briefly for 4-5 minutes and serve.
Have a question about the recipe? Send me an email through the "contact" option in your upper right and I'm happy to help!