Salad for supper

It’s been so hot around here recently that I haven’t really felt like a big meal. The mere thought of spending much time working over a hot stove has been downright depressing.

These are the days when all I want is salad for supper.

Fortunately, I had all the ingredients on hand tonight for a recipe that I’ve been developing in tribute to my new hometown.

This salad calls for sweet, juicy peaches from nearby orchards and crunchy hazelnuts, which must be Portland’s  official nut given how often I encounter them in baked goods here. I toss them with peppery arugula, a little bacon for savor and a bit of goat cheese for creamy texture and refreshing tang.  Spinach works, too, for less adventurous palates.

Most of the ingredients came from the Hollywood Farmers Market.  That’s Hollywood as in cool Portland neighborhood, not the Hollywood of movie fame.

This salad does require a little stove time, but if you keep the heat down, you only have to stir the bacon occasionally as it browns.  The hazelnuts are roasted briefly in a toaster oven on the far side of the kitchen.

With all its textures and bright flavors, this is just the salad for summer’s hottest evenings.

Serve 4 as an entree, 8 as a side dish1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon
2 large peaches
6 cups washed arugula
3 ounces fresh goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Toast hazelnuts in a metal baking pan in a 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes–just long enough for the skin to blister and start to peel.  Watch them carefully since they burn easily.   Wrap hot nuts in a clean dishtowel and rub them together until most of the skin is scraped off.  Chop the peeled nuts roughly and discard the skin.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, vinegar and olive oil for the salad dressing.  Set aside.

Cut bacon slices in half lengthwise, then crosswise in thick slices.  Cook in a skillet over medium heat until bacon is brown and crisp.  Drain bacon pieces on a dish lined with paper towels.

While bacon is cooking, peel peaches, cut into quarters and remove the pits.  Slice the quarters crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.  Cut goat cheese into small chunks.

Place arugula in a large salad bowl.  Add peaches, hazelnuts, bacon, and goat cheese and toss.  Drizzle dressing over salad and toss again or pass dressing separately.  Serve immediately on chilled plates.

Aleta Watson