This magnificent peach and escarole salad was inspired by one Michele and I had on our recent trip to New York City. We were taken out to dinner by my publisher (which has nothing to do with the story, but I really enjoyed typing that) to a place called Hearth, in the East Village.
The salad course was a plate of roughly torn escarole, dressed with a slightly sweet sherry vinaigrette. As I ate, I kept thinking to myself, damn, this is one delicious salad. The odd thing was, it took me a good while to actually put my finger on what exactly made it so wonderful.
Then it hit me. It was made with real, full-grown, somewhat tough, slightly bitter greens. 95% of the salads I eat in restaurants these days are made with the ubiquitous "baby greens" – that bland, one-dimensional, melt-in-your-mouth mixture of lettuce, so soft and delicate you don't even need a set of teeth to eat them. This was the polar opposite of that. I had almost forgotten how interesting a salad could be! So, when Michele brought home a couple small heads of escarole one afternoon, I decided to film a salad recipe video, combining the mas macho greens with sweet peaches, goat cheese, and walnuts.
One trick with escarole is to make sure you are using a sweet enough dressing to offset the bitterness. I accomplished that with a dressing of sherry and rice vinegar, and then, just to hedge my bets, I added some perfectly ripe peaches to the mix. The result was one of the best salads I've had in years. Enjoy!
Summer is a time for fresh, light and refreshing foods that need no cooking! This magnificent peach and escarole salad dressed with a slightly sweet sherry vinaigrette and a scatter of toasted walnuts and salty goat cheese is like summer on a plate. It’s crisp, bitter, sweet, salty, citrusy and crunchy all in one. It's a salad that will make you fall in love with the season!