I’m conflicted these days. I want it to be Fall so bad that I’m already getting in to my woolen and winter fabric stash to stitch up some skirts to wear with boots, I’m already thinking about where all of my autumn decorations will live around our new house. I’ve been peeking into my decoration boxes and longing to see my old friends in them. I’m ready for warm days, cool nights, boots and shorter days.
On the other hand, summer is just peaking. My tomatoes haven’t hardly begun to ripen and my plants are laden with them. My zucchini is ready for takeoff. The grapes on the vines are just barely starting to variegate, as Nick and I noticed on a walk yesterday morning. I’m still having a love affair with peaches and stone fruits. My tummy wants pot pie and chicken and dumplings but is still charmed by large dinner salads chock-full of the season’s bounty.
See? Conflicted. My want for Fall will have to wait, we’ve got lots of summer left to enjoy, and the the weather couldn’t be better. There’s camping to do, swimming to be swum, and lots of warm nights ahead. And to celebrate the month of August that is suddenly upon us, I propose this beautiful salad. It comes together quick and like many of my recipes it’s nice enough for company. The shining star is the candied nuts, nice and sweet with just a little bit of heat to compliment the nectarines. The dressing is nice and fresh and light, letting the brightness of the flavors shine through without smothering them.
Grilled Chicken and Nectarine Salads
1/3 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. roughly chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 t. ground cayenne pepper
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2 t. honey
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 T. Herbs de Provence
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 T. Herbs de Provence
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
6 c. herb salad mix, spring greens, or torn leaf lettuce
2 nectarines, pitted and sliced
4 green onions, chopped
4 oz. crumbled goat cheese
For Candied Walnuts: Place sugar in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring gently as needed to dissolve sugar evenly (about 1 minute). Continue cooking 1 minute or until golden (do not stir). Remove from heat; carefully stir in cayenne pepper and nuts to coat evenly. Spread nuts on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; separate nuts quickly. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside until cool; break into small pieces.
For vinaigrette: combine 1/4 c. olive oil, 1/4 c. cider vinegar, 1/2 t. salt and 1 T. Herbs de Provence in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine, taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
Prepare chicken: combine Herbs de Provence, chicken breasts, 1 T. olive oil and 1/2 t. salt in a shallow dish, marinate for 1/2 hour to 1 hour. Grill chicken over medium-high heat (gas grill) or medium-hot coals (charcoal grill) until 180*F, 15-20 minutes total. Remove to cutting board and tent.
Assemble salad: Place greens in a large bowl, shake up and drizzle on 1/3 of the dressing and toss well to coat. Divide dressed greens between 4 dinner plates. Slice chicken against grain and divide between plates. Divide nectarine slices, green onions, candied walnuts and goat cheese between plates. Drizzle a scant tablespoon of dressing over each of the completed salads, top with a crack of fresh ground pepper and a pinch of salt if desired, serve with additional dressing on the side.