This is my new favorite salad and I’ve been eating it All. The. Time. Its fresh, summery, bright flavors are the perfect way to welcome the GODDAMN HOT WEATHER that’s coming. This is great as a side dish, a full meal when you toss some chicken on there, to bring for your lunch (which you should always bring to work, never buy), or to make a bunch and impress all your sassy friends at a summer BBQ. Let’s make this thing.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4):
- 4 ripe peaches
- A pint of grape or cherry tomatoes
- 4oz lowfat feta cheese
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (try and at least get that shit raised without antibiotics, if not full-on organic)
- balsamic vinegar (the real kind, it should say aged Moderna balsamic, not the sugary substitute)
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup basil-mint pesto (DON’T WORRY, THAT SHIT IS BELOW)
- 5oz fresh baby spinach
- 1 large bunch Lacinato (or Tuscan) kale (not the curly kind — that’s tougher in a salad)
Basil Mint Pesto:
(you’ll probs have leftover of this after using 1/2 cup for the salads, toss it in your fridge for a week or so, or in your freezer for a couple months)
- 1 cup basil leaves (or just a big bunch)
- 1 cup mint leaves (again, just a big bunch)
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (you can use walnuts or almonds, but pine nuts give it a really nice creamy texture that the others don’t)
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon (or 2 if they’re small)
- 2 garlic cloves (1 if you need it milder)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
First things first, let’s get that chicken in the oven. Make sure it’s trimmed (yes you have to touch it, and slice all of the fat and weird parts off), preheat the oven to 350, throw some salt and pepper on them, put them on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes (if they’re sliced thin, you may just need 15min or less).
While that’s happening, let’s put a peach marinade together! Cut up these awesome oh-my-god-stone-fruit-season-is-here peaches into chunks, like so. For some reason my iPhone has taken the liberty of taking these photos with a GlamourShots Wistful filter.
Put those chunks in a big bowl, and halve all of your cherry or grape tomatoes and toss them into that same bowl. If you’d rather use those big-ass tomatoes, thats fine as long as you’re eating the salad the same day. Otherwise they get mealy in the fridge. These small ones have better texture if you’re storing it, even for a up to a week.
Drizzle some olive oil and aged balsamic over the tomato-peach mixture (about equal parts, maybe 2 tablespoons of each? just drizzle it), stir until well-coated, and set aside. The oil and vinegar will make friends with the peach and tomato, and form a delicious dressing at the bottom of the bowl.
Now it’s time to make that pesto. Basically just throw all those ingredients into the food processor and let it do its thang. I always just add a touch of olive oil and the beginning, and then drizzle a little more in as its running; this way I’m only adding as much as I need for the desired texture. If your pine nuts aren’t toasted, just throw them in a dry pan on medium for about 5 minutes (keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn).
By now your chicken is done, and so is your pesto, and so is your peach-tomato marinade. Now all we have to do is assemble the salad BEAUTIFULLY. Make sure your spinach and kale leaves are washed and dried, and the stems have been removed from the kale, and toss them all together (the kale can just be torn into big salad pieces) to make your “salad bed.” Then add the chopped chicken breast, a few more sliced tomatoes, and crumbled feta over the top. Your pesto is ready to be dolloped in a few small spots, like so.
If you’re eating this right away, spoon the peach-tomato mixture over top, making sure you get some of the liquid on there, toss, and enjoy! If you’re taking it to work or a party, then put that mixture in a separate container, and pour over right before you eat it. The rest will stay awesome and crisp.
As you can see, this salad is EFFING GORGEOUS and as you’ll find out, it’s also extremely tasty. The basil-mint pesto gives it an incredibly bright flavor, which mixes perfectly with the saltiness of the cheese, and the sweetness of the peaches. Man oh man.
PLUS, this is healthy healthy healthy. The spinach and kale are nutrient packed (plenty of vitamins A, C, and K) and full of antioxidants and iron, the chicken breast is a great source of lean protein, and the peach is deliciously low in calories and a good source of vitamin C and fiber.
You know me, usually salads just don’t do it for me, but using dark leafy greens instead of lettuce make it more filling because of their fiber content. And you can pile those as high as you want; the pesto will coat the whole salad so every bit is flavorful. THIS IS THE BEST.