Did you know August is national peach month? Neither did I until I got an e-mail about it from epicurious. And let me tell you, as soon as I found out, I was ready to celebrate in style. I’m always game for a juicy summer peach. Then I found this recipe and the celebration became somewhat bittersweet.
Reading through the ingredient list, I knew the recipe would be delicious. But my mind couldn’t help but turn to my sister, Stephanie, who passed away very unexpectedly two-and-a-half years ago. (Where did the time go?) Stephanie loved peaches–in every way and every form. She loved to eat gorgeous Oklahoma summer peaches–the kind where juice bursts out and drips all down your chin and arms. She became giddy any time a restaurant served peach bellinis. She even had peach as her wedding color. She also loved onions; she would eat one raw like an apple. And buttermilk dressing very reminiscent of ranch? She’d love it. I can’t help but think of my niece, her sweet daughter who is 100% Stephanie down to the core, and the question she often asks when we’re having salad–Is it REAL ranch? It’s just such a Stephanie question. And she says it in such a Stephanie way.
Steph, I wish we could sit down for one more lunch and enjoy this together. You can even bring your big ol’ Dr. Pepper cup we all used to make fun of. I’d love to see you do the little dance you used to do when something was so, so delicious. I’d love to watch you flip your hands around while you talk the way you always did. But most of all, I’d love to hear you laugh one more time because nobody could resist laughing when you did.
Grilled Peach and Vidalia Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
adapted from Food and Wine, July 2012
1 lb. thick-sliced bacon
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. buttermilk
2 TBSP chopped mint
2 TBSP chopped parsley
2 TBSP snipped chives
1-2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
3 lbs. Vidalia or other sweet onions, cut into 1-in.-thick slabs
extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
4 large ripe peaches, cut into 8 wedges each
5 oz. baby arugula (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil and prepare with a baking rack, if desired (to help bacon crisp).
2. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with
the sour cream, buttermilk, mint, parsley, chives and vinegar. Season
with salt and pepper, to taste, and refrigerate.
3. Arrange bacon slices on preheated baking sheet or rack in a single layer and sprinkle with brown
sugar and cayenne. Bake 25-30 minutes, until caramelized (the
bacon will crisp as it cools). Let cool, then cut into
4. Meanwhile, preheat a grill or grill pan to medium heat. Brush onions
with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate
heat, turning occasionally, until softened and browned, 10 minutes.
Separate the onions into rings.
5. Brush peaches with olive oil and
grill until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a
6. If making as a full meal, divide arugula among 4-6 plates. Top with onions and peaches, then drizzle with dressing. Garnish with bacon. If serving as a side, toss peaches, onions, and bacon with dressing. Serves 4-6 as a main dish or 8 as a fantastic side for fancy barbeque.