Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad
When I made grilled chicken and peach salad for the first time – and told my husband, Colin, that we were having it for dinner – he skeptically looked at me. In as polite of a voice as he could muster, he managed to say, “OK.” I imagine he was wondering if we might be ordering a backup pizza in case this was a total bust. But after taking the first bite of this new salad, he looked surprised and said, “This is really good!” Later in the meal, Colin added, “I like the way I feel as I’m eating this. It’s a light meal, but filling.” I knew he’d be a fan. And so will you.
I was first introduced to grilled chicken and peach salad a few summers ago when my mom, sister, and I were eating out together. In between our laughter and catching up, I savored every bite of this sweet and juicy fruit – which went beautifully with the chicken. Paired with a piece of good crusty bread, it was the perfect summer meal. Later that night, I decided that I would eventually try making a similar salad at home.
Recently I decided that it was time. Time to tango with this salad. Especially since peaches are in their prime right now. Last week I came across Kerri Conan’s delicious “Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad” recipe which is featured on epicurious.com. Kerri’s work can be found in a variety of publications. While using her beautiful creation as the point of reference for this meal, I also made some adjustments to the recipe.
For example, I used mixed greens, turned to Dijon mustard to add a bit of spice in the dressing, and added toasted almonds for some serious crunch (Toasting them strengthens their nutty flavor). I also added feta cheese to serve as a salty and creamy garnish, in addition to red onions for a pop of color and a pungent flavor.
I tested my adjusted recipe with both an outdoor grill and a grill pan. No matter which way you grill your peaches, they will taste even sweeter-thanks to the heat. Yes please!
Yield: 4 servings
Nonstick cooking spray
4 peaches, halved and pitted
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, uncooked
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper (Adjust to preference)
9 cups mixed greens
½ - ¾ cup red onion, diced (Adjust to taste)
*½ cup toasted almonds, whole or sliced, for garnish (optional) (See cook’s note)
Feta cheese, crumbled, for garnish (optional) (Adjust to taste)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons canola oil (Or olive oil)
*You can buy toasted almonds for this recipe. However, I like to toast whole, raw almonds in the oven in a single layer on a lined, rimmed baking sheet – at 350° F. Toast until golden brown (In my oven this process takes around 12 minutes. Depending on the oven, the baking time may vary). Alternatively, you can also toast these nuts on the stovetop in a skillet – stirring as needed – or on a microwave safe plate. If using sliced almonds, they will require less time in the oven/skillet/microwave. Note: It is not necessary to use oil or cooking spray when toasting almonds (They contain oil).
1. Brush all peach halves with 1 tablespoon of oil, particularly focusing on the flesh side and lightly coating the skin. Then, place each oiled peach half flesh side up on a medium size plate. Set aside.
2. Spray an outdoor grill or grill pan with nonstick cooking spray to prevent the chicken from sticking. Heat the outdoor grill to high or the grill pan to medium high. Brush both sides of the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Grill the chicken until cooked through (The chicken’s internal temperature should read 165°F on a meat thermometer. On my outdoor grill, this required 8-9 minutes on each side, while on the grill pan this amounted to 10 minutes per side. Adjust cooking time as needed). Set the cooked chicken aside on a clean plate.
3. Reduce the temperature of the outdoor grill/grill pan to just below medium heat. Place the pre-oiled peach halves flesh side down on the grill/grill pan. Grill for 4 minutes on the flesh side and 1-2 minutes on the skin side until the peach is tender-and still in one peace-versus squishy and falling apart (I prefer to cook the flesh side for a longer period of time in order to more easily leave grill marks while protecting the texture of the peach. Adjust cooking time as needed). Place the grilled peaches on a clean plate and set aside.
4. Next, make the salad dressing. In a small bowl, whisk the mustard and vinegar together first. Then slowly add the oil whisking continuously until combined.
5. Slice the chicken into thin strips and the peaches into even wedges.
6. Place an equal amount of greens on four plates. Top with sliced chicken, peaches, and red onion. Add toasted almonds and feta cheese if desired. Serve with dressing on the side. Enjoy!
This recipe has been adapted from Kerri Conan’s “Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad” recipe which is featured on epicurious.com.