Add Grilled Peaches To Your Salad For A Smoky Summer Twist

Most people, when they hear the word "salad," tend to picture a bowl of greens topped with classic veggies like cucumber, tomato, and shredded carrot. A salad can be much more than a pile of lettuce, however. Salads are a state of mind and are only as limited as your imagination. In the summertime, when all the fresh fruits and vegetables ripen, there are so many ingredients you could add to a salad to make it more interesting, including peaches. The peach harvest season runs from mid-April through October, depending on where they're grown, and these firm stone fruits are perfect for adding a little intrigue to a summer salad. Whether you're throwing a backyard barbecue or just grilling on a weeknight, cook up a couple of peach slices to liven up the salad bowl. The combination of sweetness and smokiness will give you a seasonal, smoky flavor boost, and you might just get some salad haters to change their ways.

Grilled peaches are easy to make since the fruits are dense and won't break apart when heated up, plus they cook up in a flash. Similarly, grilled peaches are a great accompaniment to a variety of cheeses, nuts, and other salad extras. All you need is a little cooking oil and a pair of tongs, and you can grill peaches for your greens like a pro.

The art of grilling peaches

If you've never tried a grilled peach, there's no time like the present to give them a taste. Just like when you bake peaches in a pie, cobbler, crumble, or crisp, the heat brings out their natural sweetness, softens the texture, and breaks down the cells in the fruit to release the juices. When you grill your peaches, you also get some extra roasty, toasty flavors from the Maillard reaction, which is when the sugars on the surface of the fruit caramelize when they come into contact with the hot grill.

To grill your peaches for salad, you don't want them to get too soft. They should be fork-friendly so that they can play well in the salad bowl with the other ingredients. Brush both sides of your peach slices with your cooking oil of choice, and then grill them on each side for two or three minutes over medium heat. Try not to let the flame touch them very much because that will leave an unpleasant campfire-like flavor on the fruit. Once they have brown (not black) grill marks on both sides, pull them off, let them cool, and slice them up for your salad. That's all there is to it! If you accidentally cook your peach slices too much and they get too soft, don't sweat it — put them aside for dessert and serve them with a scoop of vanilla or butter pecan ice cream.

Peach-friendly salad additions

Grilled peach slices are delicious as the star in even the plainest salads, but when there's an abundance of fresh produce or other ingredients around, you can consider some other add-ins to make your salad unique. A honey-based dressing is an excellent match with peaches and will complement the smoky flavors from the grill. You can also add some crumbled goat cheese or feta for tanginess, plus toasted pecans for crunch. If you want to go all out, candied pecans might be even better.

Try playing around with different lettuces as well. A salad mix with a good amount of spicy arugula is a good pairing with grilled peaches, or try using a blend of fresh herbs like dill and cilantro. You could also skip the lettuce altogether and make a delicious salad with some fresh sweet corn, tomatoes, grilled peaches, red onions, and soft, mild cheese.

Another nice thing about grilled peaches is that they also refrigerate well, so you can grill some over the weekend and use them the rest of the week for meal prep, and they'll jazz up even a store-bought salad. Once you see how easy it is to grill peaches to up your salad game, you'll start coming up with all kinds of fun combinations.