Upping the summer salad game with this peach and goat cheese salad! The ideal fusion of flavour and texture is created between the sweetness from the the soft peaches, crunchy red onions and the chewy candied pecans, and the tanginess and intense flavours of the crumbly goat cheese and leafy arugula.
Summer is here to stay for a while, which means I don’t have enough energy to cook for long hours. I also try to minimize as much as possible the use of the stove and the oven in these hot months. Therefore, I opt for easy, healthy and flavourful meals as this salad!
I wanted to use what is in season and local at the moment, and since in Summer many fruits are available, and the local store had the most beautiful ripe peaches, I went for a peach salad. To be honest with you, I have a weird thing for peaches. I do like them. Yet, don’t make me touch a really fuzzy peach as I get the heebie-jeebies. Luckily, these were fine and all was good, but it took me quite a while to decipher if I would be all good. I served these peaches raw as they were perfectly ripe. However, you can also grill the peaches for this salad. It will add a deeper and sweeter flavour to this salad.
As peaches are quite sweet, I chose some arugula and goat cheese to balance it out. I decided to add some red onion to add another level of sweetness and some crunch. I also wanted to add more colour. To top this off, I always like to put some sort of nuts in my salad, and pecans go so well with peaches and goat cheese that it was a must! However, I wanted to do something a bit more fancier and add a bit more flavour. Instead of simply toasting my pecans before putting them on this peach and goat cheese salad, I caramelised them. I still had to use the oven so might as well go all the way, now that I’m using it.
How to caramelise pecans?
One of the simplest things to do. Prepare this before starting to assemble the salad as the pecans need to cool down and harden before being added to the salad. So how to make them? Simply just combine the pecans with the honey, making sure that every pecan is covered. You can either place them on a parchment lined baking tray and roast for about 8 minutes. Always keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn!
Or else, you can do it on the stove by placing the pecans and honey in a small pot and let them caramelise for a few minutes while continuously stirring them, until it’s all glossy. Transfer to a plate covered with parchment paper and let cool. Both ways work great, however, if you do this process in the oven it’s less messy and you can do something else in the meantime. However don’t forget them there!
Tip! Make a few extra pecans than needed, as you will find yourself nibbling on these sweet and chewy pecans without even knowing!
Dressing the salad
I opted for a classic balsamic vinaigrette as its sweet taste goes perfect with salads that have fruits. It consists of olive oil, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Before serving the salad, I drizzled some of the vinaigrette onto my arugula and I massaged it in, and topped all my other toppings on top of it. You can also serve it on the side of the salad. In my salad I also sprinkled some pickled mustard seeds, but this is optional!
Peach and Goat Cheese salad with Candied Pecans
Peach and Goat Cheese salad with Candied Pecans
- 2 Peaches
- 140 g Arugula/Rocket
- 80 g goat cheese crumbled
- 1/2 red onion
- 60 g pecans
- 2 tbsp honey
Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
Making the vinaigrette
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Adjust the acidity level according to your taste. If you feel that it’s too acidic simply incorporate more olive oil.
Making the Candied Pecans
- Option 1 – Stove: In a small pot combine the pecans, the honey and 1 table spoon of water. Cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes until there is a slight bubbling. Remove from heat and spread the pecans on parchment paper and let cool.Option 2 – Oven:Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. In a bowl mix the pecans with the honey and place on the baking tray. Toast the nuts in the oven for about 10 minutes. Check them constantly as the cooking time will vary on how your oven cooks. Remove and let the cool, they will harden once cool. Once they’re cool you can either chop them up or else serve them whole.
Making the salad:
- Drizzle some of the balsamic vinaigrette on the arugula and massage the vinaigrette so that every single leaf is covered.
- Slice the red onion into half moon slices and add it to the arugula.
- Cut each peach into eight slices each and place them on top of the salad.
- Crumble the goat cheese on top and sprinkle the candied pecans.
- Season the salad with some salt and pepper. If you like some extra sweetness drizzle some more honey on top.
If you have any questions, feedback or comments on this recipe, please leave a comment below. If you did make this recipe, tag @apronandwhisk and hashtag #apronandwhisk, as I’m curious to see what you create!
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