Cute to Cunning: Grilled Peach and Ricotta Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Honey-Thyme Vinaigrette

My arms were full but they were so cute.  Perched on the edge of a table at the farmers market, you couldn’t walk passed without giving at least an endearing glance at the little cartons of donut peaches.  They would become dinner.

I love salads with oomph.  It’s hard to accomplish without bacon, but it’s possible if you have cheese and grill marks.  Both were at my fingertips.

I started with the cheese.  The thought of creating it yourself in your own kitchen is extremely exciting.  What’s fantastic about homemade ricotta, is that it’s delicious and incredibly simple to make.  I’m not joking.  I’d never tried it before because I hadn’t taken the 3 minutes to buy cheesecloth (the only specialty item required).  That’s actually the hardest step, buying the cheesecloth.  So, once that laborious process is over, you can get into comfy clothes, make ricotta and drizzle the leftover (nutritious) whey on your dog’s dinner.  (Yes whey.)

As the ricotta sat chilling in the fridge, I looked at the little peaches politely sitting on the table.  Over a hot flame, these donut peaches would transform from cute to cunning, freshly white to deep caramel.

Resting on a bed of zippy arugula and crunchy walnuts, the peaches were piled with the fresh, creamy ricotta.  A drizzle of sweet, yet savory, honey-thyme vinaigrette flavored the cheese and seeped into the warm peaches.

Put that bacon away.

Grilled Peach and Ricotta Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Honey-Thyme Vinaigrette

3-4 cups arugula
5 small peaches (such as donut)
3 tablespoons olive oil (for grilling)
1/2 cup crushed raw walnuts
1 cup ricotta cheese (recipe below)

Honey-Thyme Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix honey, thyme, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  While whisking mixture, slowly drizzle in oilve oil until emulsified.

Homemade Ricotta
(adapted from Ina Garten’s Recipe)

4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring milk and cream to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.  Once at a boil, turn heat off, mix in vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes to curdle.  Pour mixture into strainer lined with 2 layers of cheesecloth and fitted over a large bowl.  Let strain at room temperature for 25 minutes, lift out cheese cloth and gently squeeze excess whey from ricotta.  Scrape ricotta from the cheesecloth into a separate container and serve warm or refrigerate for up to 4 to 5 days.  Whey can be refrigerated for weeks and kept for a myriad of handy uses.  I found some good ideas here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s