(Note: this post was originally published on July 9, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
If you've been on a quest for the perfect summer salad, your journey can end here. This salad is an homage to summer cuisine in Italy, fueled by memories I have from shopping at the street markets in Florence.
This is really a salad that has it all. The farro that forms the base of this salad is hearty and chewy, but still light enough for hot days. Radicchio and baby kale fill this salad with wonderful mid-summer greens. Peaches bring sweetness, while cucumber brings fresh crunch. And don't forget the almonds and basil- they bring it all together and really make these Mediterranean flavors sing! The best part might actually be the dressing though; it's a Peach Dijon Vinaigrette that's sure to become your summer go-to.
This summery salad represents a three-way collaboration between myself, Saratoga Olive Oil, and Well + Fed. Our goal with this post is to bring you a delicious summer salad that celebrates seasonal fruits and veggies, and also packs a nutritional punch.
Being Italian myself, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Olive oil is versatile, flavorful, and packed with good-for-the-body nutrients. I love making dressings with it and I always cook with it, and this salad makes use of both of those strengths. I can't emphasize enough the importance of finding a good, robust, flavorful olive oil for your pantry.
Olive oil is the base of the Peach Dijon Vinaigrette I developed to go along with this salad (hint: make a double or triple batch of this dressing and put it on everything this summer!). And wow, is olive oil ever good for you! Johanna Setta of Well + Fed, who is a Certified Nutrition Consultant, says the following. It's music to my Italian ears!
"Olive oil is one of the few non-controversial fats out there! Even the USDA has never made claims against its health benefits. As a nutritionist with a background in organic farming and food policy, I try to clear up confusion and misconceptions about food. Like with any other food, not all olive oil is created the same; it may not all hold the same nutritional quality, and it certainly doesn't taste the same. Once you've had high-quality olive oil, it's hard to go back".
"Extra virgin olive oil is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, is rich in antioxidants, and has anti-inflammatory properties. As the world sheds its fear of fat, we are able to celebrate the many health benefits and crucial roles of healthy fat in the diet. Healthy fats are wonderful for long-lasting energy, brain function, optimal weight, and hormone health."
"Olive oil can be used to cook at any temperature, including at high heat, and can also be used cold. You may have seen warnings about not cooking at high heat with olive oil, but it actually performs differently than other vegetable oils; the polyphenols and tocopherol protect the oil from oxidation, even at high temperature. Olive oil is made mostly of monounsaturated fat, which makes it more stable at high temperatures than other vegetable oils".
What about quality, sourcing, and storage? Johanna continues:
"Olive oil in the US is commonly mixed with other oils like soybean or rapeseed, or mixed with low-quality olive oil that has been chemically modified or is from prior years. Make sure to read the labels; always buy extra virgin olive oil, pay attention to the "best by" or "harvested on" dates, and look for the country of origin."
"Once you've acquired high-quality extra virgin olive oil, it's important to store it properly. Heat, light, and exposure to oxygen can all cause oxidation of the fatty acids, which compromises quality and taste. Keep your oil somewhere cool, dark, and dry, and try to use it within a year of purchase."
This is all sounding pretty excellent to me! Olive oil is luscious, rich, totally delicious, super useful and versatile, AND important for so many aspects of our health. This is why Johanna and I are both in love with Saratoga Olive Oil, a small business that specializes in carefully-sourced, artisan olive oils. Check out their website, they have a huge diversity of products and ship nationwide.
Speaking of ingredients that are often misunderstood, don't be surprised when you see salt in this recipe either. Despite the fact that salt has gotten a bad reputation in the health world, I believe strongly that salt is an integral part of our diets, both in terms of its flavors and its nutrients. I love working with super-flavorful, mineral-rich finishing salts like this Hawaiian Red Sea Salt from Saratoga Olive Oil because a little bit goes a long way. Salt is important, but let's make sure we're enjoying it in ways that really count! Johanna and I have similar feelings about salt. Here's what she has to say:
"Salt helps bring food to life! I'm a nutritionist with a background in farming and cooking, and I use salt in the kitchen and at the table. The important point is that I'm talking about adding salt to whole foods, not adding it to foods that are processed. Salt definitely has a time and a place in the kitchen and is a catalyst for properly cooked and flavored whole food dishes. Sea salts and natural salts have higher trace mineral contents than your average table salt; table salt is usually devoid of mineral nutrients and can contain anti-caking agents".
Wouldn't this salad be so perfect for a summer get-together on the deck? It's hearty enough to be a main course on its own, or it would work beautifully as a side dish with some grilled fare. You could easily add a big scoop of hummus for additional protein, and/or pile on some additional grilled veggies.
If you want to prepare this salad in advance, you can make the dressing and farro ahead of time and let them sit in the fridge overnight. You could also clean the radicchio and kale, cut up the cucumbers, and grill the peaches, but keep everything in tightly sealed containers in the fridge. I wouldn't suggest assembling the salad until close to when you're ready to serve.
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
In collaboration with Saratoga Olive Oil and Well + Fed, I'm excited to share this salad that's packed with seasonal ingredients, hearty enough to be a meal, super colorful, and wonderfully summery. It has such interesting flavors and textures, and is sure to delight salad lovers and salad skeptics alike.
This salad makes use of some of our most luscious ingredients- oil and salt! Those of us who grew up in Italian households were taught from an early age to celebrate these ingredients, and also to enjoy them in moderation. I hope this post will inspire you to do the same!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
Disclosure: This recipe has been developed through a paid partnership with Saratoga Olive Oil. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is not intended to provide medical advice and should not be considered as medical treatment. Readers are advised to consult a doctor or medical provider regarding any of the medical benefits of oil and salt described above. The author or contributors may not be held liable or responsible for any misunderstanding or misuse of the information contained in this post. Johanna Setta and Well + Fed LLC is not liable or responsible for any harm, damage, illness, loss, or injury caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by any food or food source discussed in this blog post. The reader expressly assumes the risk of choosing to consume any food mentioned in this post. Not all statements in this blog post have been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Summer on a plate! This salad unites sweet juicy peaches, bitter radicchio, chewy farro, crisp cucumbers, crunchy almonds, and fragrant basil for a versatile side dish or main course.