Classic vs. wildly popular, and an awesome summer salad
My friend Mo is a big reader. Novels, non-fiction, poetry — Mo likes it all. We discuss books at work, and he very kindly brought two in for me this week. The first: Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner (with a "from the library of" sticker inside and a post-it note marking "A Rose for Emily"). The second: Twilight, which he borrowed from a friend.
Yes, that Twilight, the teen vampire love story sensation, the instant bestseller, the first in a series that spawned a succession of films. As the weekend unfolds, I face a choice: Faulkner vs. Meyer. Nobel-prize winning author vs. contemporary sensation, one of the American South's most important literary figures vs. one of Time magazine's Most Influential People of 2008 (Meyer ranked #49).
I'll make my decision later. Right now it's time for lunch, and I'm about to enjoy one of my favorite summer salads, a salad that focuses on summer fruit — using whatever is at its best — with peppery arugula and Marcona almonds. If you aren't familiar with Marcona almonds, prepare to be amazed. And addicted. Marcona almonds are ridiculously good. They are shorter and rounder than a regular almond, a little sweeter, definitely richer in taste. Imported from Spain, Marcona almonds are lightly fried in olive oil and salted. After eating the last one, I run my fingers through the empty container, coat them with whatever oily, salty goodness is left, and lick them. There, I admit it.
Today's salad features fresh farmer's market peaches and the sun jewel melon that arrived in this week's CSA box. Stripped of its bright gold skin, the pale, slightly green-hued flesh reminds me of honeydew. I wish figs were in season — they're a favorite paired with a few sprigs of arugula and sherry vinaigrette. I use more fruit than arugula in this salad; I think of the greens as a bright accent, not the star.
Marcona almonds have become increasingly popular in the States, and are usually available at Whole Foods, Costco, and Trader Joe's. If you can't find them, use toasted almonds instead.
Summers Fruits with Arugula and Marcona Almonds
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
pinch of kosher salt
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine the minced shallot, sherry vinegar, and kosher salt in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, starting slowly, gradually adding it in a steady stream. Whisk constantly to create an emulsion.
1 large ripe peach, pit removed, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 sun jewel melon, skin and seeds removed, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
a few slivers of red onion (optional)
a handful of arugula, washed and dried
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Marcona almonds
Combine the fruits in a bowl and drizzle with a few tablespoons of sherry vinaigrette. Add the arugula and red onion (if using) and toss gently. Taste for seasoning — it will probably need a pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of the pepper mill. Add more vinaigrette if necessary. Put on serving plate(s) and sprinkle with Marcona almonds.