After a run of summery salads this month, I'm retroactively naming my Arugula Salad with Watermelon, Feta and Prosciutto as Part I of the Summer Salad Series. And here we have Summer Salad Series: Part II. This is my favorite summer salad to serve with grilled meats and fish. There something about the tangy Roquefort cheese and sweet nectarines and onions that tastes delicious with the smokey char of pork, chicken, beef and salmon. That and some grilled corn, and you have a meal!
Which is exactly what I served to my future brother and sister-in-law and their daughters a few weeks ago at an impromptu family backyard BBQ dinner party. I've actually known these future family members for about a decade now, and they were the ones who introduced me to the Man! I credit them and sing their praises for all future matrimonial bliss, and curse them whenever I'm tearing my hair out. Kidding. About the second part. Seriously though, they're already family and have been for quite some time- I was at the hospital when their first child was born, I was with them when my father passed away... many a memory. Clearly I know them pretty well. But I had no clue how they would like this salad. Namely, the blue cheese.
I'm in love with Roquefort cheese, and have been for decades. My mother gets the credit for this introduction, and I really am grateful because it truly is the most delectable blue cheese ever. Luckily enough for me, Roquefort is made from sheep's milk, so I can eat it... 'til the cows come home?! It's from the south of France and is salty and sharp, but also has some creamy sweetness. Other blue cheeses seriously pale in comparison, even local sheep milk blues. You truly need the real deal.
And while I love Roquefort almost as much as I love the Man, I wasn't sure if my future siblings are fans of blue cheese. And it turns out the Man's brother isn't a fan. But he loved the salad! They both did! Success with Summer Salad Series Parts I and II!
GRILLED NECTARINE SALAD WITH ROQUEFORT
- 2 nectarines, quartered
- 1 medium red onion, cut into thick slices
- 5 ounces arugula
- 2 large handfuls mixed greens
- 1/2 cup whole basil leaves, packed
- 1 medium shallot
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- a big pinch of sea salt, (I adore Maldon salt...), plus more for grilling
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard (Maille Dijon Originale is always my go-to favorite)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
- 1/2 cup roquefort cheese, crumbled
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
Heat your grill to medium with the lid closed. While it's warming up, toss your nectarines with some olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Separately, do the same with the onion slices. Place a wire grill basket on the grill, and arrange your nectarine and onion slices in (roughly) a single layer. Close the lid and check back in a few minutes.
The onions are ready when they start to soften and char in places, but still have some crunch left. Flip the nectarine quarters over after about 3-5 minutes, once you start to see some color on the bottoms. When ready they should be fragrant and a bit charred as well, but still hold their shape. Set the nectarines and onions aside.
Mince your shallot, and place it in a small bowl with the balsamic and champagne vinegars and a big pinch of sea salt, crushed between your fingers. Let the shallot macerate in the acid for about 5-10 minutes. Add about 12 grinds of black pepper and mustard, and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil and whisk until incorporated. Set aside.
Once the nectarines have cooled, cut each quarter into thinner slices. Give the onion rings a rough chop. Add the arugula, mixed greens and basil to a salad bowl, along with the nectarines and onions. Pour on your dressing, and toss to coat. Add roquefort and pine nuts, and toss again.