Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Salad with Peaches, Haricot Vert and Feta

There are some combinations of flavors that just seem meant to be. Almost unavoidable, even. Tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. Peanut butter, bread and jam. Peaches, green beans and feta. And yes, I realize the latter triumvirate may not quote have the renown of the first two. It was something of a surprise to me, too. But such a delicious one.

I had the good fortune to climb over the fence earlier in the week and crash a ridiculously early dinner my neighbors were throwing in honor of some visiting friends. Tasked with bringing bread and salad, I swung by the market with some vague ideas. I considered several different ingredients (Baby zucchini? Pickling cucumbers?), trying to remember recipes I'd browsed and pinned. But finally, I just settled on grabbing handfuls of the things that look most delicious on these warm summer days. The drippy-sweet and oh-so-fragrant peaches that have just appeared, a few handfuls of baby arugula, and the teensy haricot vert green beans. I picked up some creamy French feta, and a handful of the starting-to-wilt-but-still-totally-usable basil in the back of my own refrigerator. And something great happened.

The green-green-green crunch of tender haricot vert somehow works perfectly with the sweet and juicy peaches (although I bet regular green beans would work in a pinch). Arugula and basil give a spunky herbal edge against the sweetness, and creamy, briny feta ties it all together. I added a simple vinaigrette, with an extra dollop of honey and not too much sour. Since this happy discovery, the salad has already made an encore performance (you're welcome, book club!), and I aim to recreate it at least once more before the season ends. Because really, you can't argue with a meant-to-be combination like this one.

Summer Salad with Peaches, Haricot Vert and Feta

serves ~10 (this was for a potluck — can easily be halved)

~ 2 cups haricot vert (aka small & skinny green beans), any hard stem ends snapped off
1 produce bag of baby arugula
a few handfuls basil leaves (torn if large)
3-4 ripe peaches, sliced into slim wedges
~1/3 pound creamy feta, such as French or Israeli, cut into thin slabs (they'll crumble, but that's fine)

juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2-3 teaspoons mild vinegar, such as sherry
salt to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. and have a strainer in the sink, and large bowl of ice water at the ready. When boiling, add the green beans, and cook until they turn a brighter green and just begin to become tender (this will only take a minute or two). When they're done, dump them out into a strainer, then plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking. Let them sit there a few minutes until cool, and then drain.

To assemble the salad, place the arugula onto a super-large bowl or platter (or two reasonably large ones). Top with the basil, beans, peaches and feta.

Place the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid (like a canning jar), and shake until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Pour over the salad, and serve.


  1. This salad sounds phenomenal! Who doesn't want to eat all the best produce of high summer in one bowl? Yay!

  2. We could, and dare say, will make that here on Samos. We should have all the ingredients. Yum.

    1. I would love to see the Greek version!