(Note: this post was originally published on July 9, 2020. It has since been updated with a few tweaks.)
Summer on a Plate
If you've been on a quest for the perfect summer salad, your journey can end here. This grilled peach salad is an homage to summer cuisine in Italy, fueled by memories I have of buying beautiful, colorful, super-fresh fruits and veggies at the street markets in Florence.
This is a salad that has it all. The farro 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 pull this summer farro salad 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 peach salad recipe represents a three-way collaboration between myself, Saratoga Olive Oil, and Well + Fed. Our goal with this post is to bring you a delicious, colorful dish that celebrates seasonal fruits and veggies, and also packs a nutritional punch. We've all fallen in love with this grilled peach salad and hope you will too.
How to Grill Peaches
Although grilling fruit can seem tricky, it's actually quite straightforward (and fast!) once you get the hang of it. Peaches and pineapple are my favorite fruits to grill, although nectarines, melon, and grapefruit also work well. Grilled fruit has such visual appeal, and the flavor becomes even more seductive and sweet. This peach salad with basil has such summer flair anyways, but bringing in a grilled component takes it over the top. Here are my favorite fruit grilling tips:
Start with fruit that's ripe but still firm. It will become softer as it grills, so I recommend using fruit that's a day or two shy of its ideal ripeness for eating raw.
Oil the grill well. Fruit really wants to stick because of its high sugar content, so make sure to oil the racks thoroughly.
Grill it very hot and fast. Generally speaking, you want to give the fruit some nice grill flavor and pretty grill marks, but you're not trying to cook it through. I prefer to work at very high heat, such that I get that nice char in just a mintute or two. Grill the fruit just until it starts to delicately char, then flip it and do the other side.
If you follow these tips, I'm confident you'll be making this grilled peach salad (and maybe a grilled pineapple salad? and grilled fruit skewers?) all summer long.
Olive Oil: A Love Story
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 seasonal peach salad with basil 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.
Good for the Body
Olive oil is the base of the Peach Dijon Vinaigrette I developed to go along with this summer farro salad. Johanna Setta of Well + Fed, who is a Certified Nutrition Consultant, says the following about this special, healthful oil:
"Olive oil is one of the few non-controversial fats available. Even the USDA has never made claims against its health benefits. Extra virgin olive oil is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, is rich in antioxidants, and has anti-inflammatory properties. There are many benefits and crucial roles of healthy fats in the diet: they're 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. 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".
How to Care for Olive Oil
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."
We hope this information is useful, both for this peach salad recipe and in general. 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.
Speaking of ingredients that are often misunderstood, don't be surprised when you see salt in this summer farro salad either. Despite the fact that salt has gotten a bad reputation in the health world, it 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. 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".
Grilled Peach Salad Serving Suggestions
This summery peach salad with basil is versatile and can easily be altered to meet your needs. 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 some chick peas for additional protein and/or pile on some additional grilled veggies.
Because of that versatility, I find this is a great salad for entertaining. It can be a main course for herbivores and a side dish for carnivores who want to put meat on the grill, so it definitely pleases a diverse group. I've made this summer farro salad for numerous get-togethers on our deck and everyone always loves it, regardless of their diet.
Make Ahead Tips
If you want to prepare this peach salad recipe 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 sealed containers in the fridge. I wouldn't suggest assembling the salad until close to when you're ready to serve.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here's what you'll need for this peach salad 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.
Saratoga Olive Oil Ripe Peach White Balsamic Vinegar. Any other fruity white balsamic would be lovely as well. Take a look at their Apricot, Grapefruit, or Sicilian Lemon in particular; you could even change up the fruit in the salad to match.
Saratoga Olive Oil Tunisian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Any robust olive oil would be great here. Given there are so few ingredients in the dressing, opt for one with big flavor.
Farro. Wheatberries would be delicious if you have the patience to cook them. Barley would also work well and has a more similar cooking time to farro.If you need to keep this grilled peach salad gluten-free, quinoa will work, although the texture won't be as interesting.
Radicchio. I don't suggest substituting this; the bitter flavor is an important counterpoint for the sweet peaches. If you can't find radicchio, choose another bitter green like endive.
Baby kale. Arugula would be great too, if you want to add some peppery flavor.
Roasted salted almonds
Fresh basil. I'm going to always make peach salad with basil from now on, the two are a match made in heaven. You could also try using mint for a different, fresher flavor profile.
In collaboration with Saratoga Olive Oil and Well + Fed, I'm excited to share this summer farro salad that's packed with seasonal ingredients, hearty enough to be a meal, super colorful, and wonderfully versatile. It has such interesting flavors and textures, and is always a hit regardless of how you serve it.
This peach salad recipe makes use of some of our most luscious ingredients: oil and salt. I grew up in an Italian family and was 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 grilled peach salad unites sweet juicy peaches, bitter radicchio, chewy farro, crisp cucumbers, crunchy almonds, and fragrant basil for a versatile, seasonal side dish or main course.
To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients together and stir well. Taste and adjust as you see fit; you can add additional balsamic for more sweetness, additional mustard for more zing, or additional olive oil for more lusciousness.
To cook the farro, bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add the farro, and boil for about 15 minutes until tender. Drain in a fine-mesh colander.
While the farro is still hot, put it in a large mixing bowl with half of the salad dressing and stir. This will help the farro absorb the flavors of the dressing. Set the other half of the dressing aside for drizzling on top of the salad and allow the farro to cool.
While the farro is cooling, cut the peaches into wedges and grill them on a very well-oiled grill at high temperature for a minute or two per side, or just until lightly charred. You can do this either outdoors or on an indoor grill pan. Set the peaches aside to cool.
Cut the radicchio into ribbons and cut the cucumbers into slices.
Once the farro has cooled to room temperature, add the radicchio and baby kale and toss gently (don't do this while the farro is still warm or the greens will wilt).
Transfer the farro, radicchio, and baby kale to a serving platter. Add cucumber and peach slices on top. Garnish with almonds and fresh basil cut into ribbons.
Finish it off with a sprinkle of sea salt.
Serve with additional dressing on the side for drizzling.