If you don’t like to mix sweet fruit into a savoury salad then look away now.
I’m not one to often do this, but there was something so appealing about the peach that was staring at me in the veg shop the day I cooked this up. I could have just eaten it for pud of course, but somewhere in my subconscious I recalled a griddled pear salad, and wondered if this would work just as well.
I’ve been reading the Flavour Thesauraus lately and it has encouraged me to get more adventurous with my pairings. Almond and peach are featured in the book as inviting combo. The only meat to be paired with peach is prosciutto. Putting pigeon in my salad instead was a bit of a ‘oh heck just bloody go for it’ decision as I was standing in the kitchen playing ready steady cook with the contents of my fridge and the rest of my shopping bag. Its SO much fun to freestyle in the kitchen, never quite knowing what the end of the dish will look or taste like.
The dressing was inspired by the Lebanese spice Za’atar – which is traditionally a combination of thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. Though I sadly had to leave out the sesame seeds since they weren’t in my pantry on this particular day.
This salad really works. Pairing a tasty bit of rare meat, green leaves for freshness, a sweetly gridded piece of fruit, almonds for that top layer of crunch and tangy vinaigrette to bring it all together. The end result was gorgeous. I made enough for lunch the next day too. A very wise move.
I’ll look forward to what happens when I next play ready stead cook.
Ingredients (Serves 2 – there will be dressing left over)
- Thyme Vinaigrette: 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice, tsp Dijon Mustard, pinch Himalayan Salt, 1 Tablespoon Thyme leaves, 2 tsp Sumac
- Salad: 1 peach, 6 small pigeon breasts, 1 gem/romaine lettuce torn into pieces, handful rocket, handful of toasted almonds, crushed (approx 16)
- First prepare the vinaigrette by placing all the ingredients into a lidded jar and shaking together. Adjust the oil/acid/seasoning to taste. Set aside (dressings always taste better once the flavours have had time to infuse. If the oil and acid separate re shake before you dress!
- Slice the peach, and brush with olive oil. Heat up a griddle pan. Griddle the peach for a few minutes each side until lightly charred with griddle lines. Set aside.
- Next, season the pigeon and add a little oil to the surface, place skin-side down in the griddle pan. Cook for 3 minutes each side and set aside. It will need to rest for at least 3 minutes before it can be sliced to top the salad.
- Meanwhile take the lettuce & rocket and dress with 1 Tablespoon of the dressing.
- Now you can assemble the salad. Place half the leaves on each plate, and dot around the peaches, pigeon slices and crushed almonds. Add a sprig of thyme and a touch more dressing to serve.
p.s If you don’t know what ready steady cook is…. A TV show where chefs are paired with members of the public to compete against each other in a blind 20 minute recipe challenge. They get 5 ingredients each and the winner is crowned by the audience based on who comes up with the best recipe.