I remember the exact moment like it was yesterday.
My body was firmly positioned in the middle of a driveway watching my friends play basketball. I was about 10-years old. I was wearing Keds. And I’m pretty sure my long brown hair was securely fastened in a side ponytail complete with a bright neon scrunchie (you’ve got to love the eighties).
While everyone was dribbling around trying to toss the ball into the net, I just stood there.
Eating a peach.
It wasn’t just any old peach. This fuzzy, thin-skinned beauty stopped me dead in my tracks. The flavor was beyond sweet, and bite after bite the golden, syrupy nectar just dripped down my arms!
I remember thinking to myself, “Is this thing for real?”
What I don’t remember however, was why on Earth I was standing in the middle of a high-impact sports game eating fruit.
But the memory of this peachy euphoria would set the bar for every future peach to come, even after two decades later.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh peaches is with tender baby greens in a salad.
As luck would have it, our weekly CSA delivery kicked off last week and the 3-week old baby arugula and mustard greens are to-die-for.
The leaves are incredibly soft, a little bit spicy, and wilt at the slightest lashings of vinaigrette. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I’m a proud member of Long Island’s Golden Earthworm Organic Farm. Their produce is heavenly and always inspiring.
Creating a simple salad to celebrate the season was a no-brainer.
For this recipe, I made a simple lemon vinaigrette with Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar- that’s my secret ingredient.
Then, I dunked a few thinly sliced red onions into the vinaigrette for just about a minute or two. This technique takes out the raw bite and imparts a subtle oniony flavor. It’s like ‘blanching.’
While the onions were doing their thing, I washed the salad and cut up the fruit. The peaches were so juicy and delicious, I couldn’t use them as planned because we scoffed them all before I could sneak in a photograph! I defaulted to the just-as-good nectarine instead.
I finished the salad with toasted pine nuts from the freezer and Parmesan shavings.
See how simple?
Sometimes, the most basic and unassuming recipes are the most rewarding to make and eat, and this seasonal salad will certainly hit the spot.
Do you have any inspiring fond food memories?
Storage: I keep my unwashed arugula in a plastic bag in the fridge, which usually lasts for 3-4 days. I use special bags from Amazon just for my veggies. They’re bread bags actually, so they are on the long and narrow side and are perfect for storing loose greens. You can find them here if you’re interested.
Substitutions: I’d keep the baby arugula since it’s the star of the dish. For the dressing, any light vinaigrette will do. Just make sure it’s not a creamy and heavy one otherwise your salad will look like coleslaw instead. Trader Joe’s sells an inexpensive Parmesan, Romano & Asagio Blend (shavings), which is really convenient to have on hand to sprinkle on salads and pastas.
Make Ahead: Just the dressing. Up to 1 week in advance in an air-tight jar. Baby arugula is so fresh and delicate, I only wash it right before serving.Print
simple arugula salad with nectarines + pine nuts
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 10 mins
- Yield: 4
For the Vinaigrette
- juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tbsp
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup neutral flavored oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- a few thinly sliced red onions
For the Salad
- 4 large handfuls or baby arugula (I used baby mustard greens as well)
- 1 large ripe & firm nectarine or peach, sliced into wedges or cubes
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- large handful of Parmesan shavings
- To make the vinaigrette, combine the first 4 ingredients in an empty jam jar. Season generously with salt and pepper and shake well to blend. Taste the vinaigrette, and add more vinegar or seasoning as needed. Add the red onion slices. Let sit for 1-2 minutes for the flavor to infuse; then remove. You can either add the onion slices to the salad or discard them.
- To make the salad, add the arugula leaves to a large bowl. Add the nectarines, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. Dress the salad with some of the vinaigrette right before serving so the leaves do not wilt.
- Enjoy at room temperature.
What do you consider a neutral flavored oil? EVOO maybe?
Hi Sue! My choices would be light olive oil (it will say ‘light’ on the bottle) or for a stronger taste, you can use extra virgin olive oil. I also recommend sunflower oil or grapeseed oil (both can be found at Trader Joe’s for a great price). But of course, use whatever oil you prefer for salads :)
Laney (Ortensia Blu) says
Beautiful salad and love the the onion “blanching’ bit – for sure will give it a try! xo
Hi Laney! I miss you! The blanching trick is really useful when you want to achieve a flavor that’s not quite as strong as a ‘quick pickle.’ And it’s so easy! xo
Megan S. says
I know virtually nothing about arugula, so please pardon my ignorance. Why is it significant that the baby arugula is three weeks old? (I love, love, love your intro! So vivid that I can almost taste that peach myself!)
Hi Megan! Great question! Okay, so two things: young leaves are really soft. You can buy baby arugula in the store obviously, but when it’s really young (like what I have) the leaves feel like feathers. There are different varieties too, so I think that plays a role in the texture and flavor. Also, really young arugula has a very mild spicy taste. From experience (my dad’s gardening notes) the older it gets the stronger the flavor will become, especially if the leaves are not watered often.
Ps: thanks so much about the intro! X
Megan S. says
Ah, that makes sense! Thank you!
Laura McG says
LOVE the 80’s reference! Brings me back. I also love arugula and pairing it with fruit is such a brilliant idea! A great way to bring together the spicy taste of the arugula with something sweet. Definitely trying this!
Ha! I know! Such a memorable time ;) The nectarines are really nice with the arugula- the dressing makes it! Hope you enjoy!