Sunday, August 12, 2012

Peach and Mixed Greens Salad

I found this recipe on Epicurious when I was looking for a non-dessert way to use up the fresh peaches I bought at the farmers' market.  The recipe sounded mildly interesting - I liked the combination of the pancetta and the peaches with the arugula and ricotta salata.  In the end, this dish couldn't hold a candle to the Grilled Peach Panzanella we made last summer.  Everything about that salad was just wonderful.  This salad was good, but it never approached wonderful.  It just didn't quite come together for me.  Alex's main complaint about the salad (which I agree with, although it wouldn't have been my biggest complaint) was that sauteing the peaches in a pan with evoo and the rendered fat from the pancetta made the peaches have a greasy/oily mouthfeel.  He would have preferred to wrap the peaches in pancetta and then roast them over a cooling rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet (similar to how you can roast bacon in the oven) because that way the pancetta fat would have dripped off the peaches and would have obviated the need for the additional evoo.  I suggested maybe grilling the pancetta-wrapped peaches for a similar effect.  Either way, it wasn't my favorite peach salad (although it was far from terrible and we ate it all) and I doubt we will be making it again.  Oh, one more thing, you definitely want to use toothpicks to secure your pancetta.  The recipe doesn't call for them but otherwise your pancetta ends up falling off all over the place and not on your peaches.  We would have used toothpicks, but we ran out.

Recipe after the jump!

Peach and Mixed Green (Arugula) Salad 
June 2004

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt (preferably sea salt)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 firm-ripe peaches (1 1/2 lb total)
24 thin slices pancetta (Italian unsmoked cured bacon; 1 1/4 lb)
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 oz baby arugula (6 cups) - we used mesclun greens instead
2 1/2 oz finely crumbled ricotta salata (1/2 cup)
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Whisk together vinegar, juice, and salt, then add extra-virgin oil in a stream, whisking until emulsified.

Cut an X in bottom of each peach and immerse in boiling water 15 seconds, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Peel peaches and cut each into 6 wedges, then unroll pancetta slices and wrap one slice around each wedge, overlapping ends of pancetta. Heat remaining oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook peaches in 2 batches, turning over occasionally with tongs, until pancetta is browned on all sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, covered loosely with foil.

Divide arugula and warm pancetta-wrapped peaches among 8 salad plates. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with ricotta salata and pepper. Serve immediately.

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