During stone fruit season, I can’t get enough of, each in their time, beautifully ripe apricots, peaches, nectarines and then plums. It’s as though a deep place inside is saying gorge while you can before they’re gone, and with them, summer itself.
Among them, peaches are my favorite, so much so that I’ve taken to playing with their sweet-tart flavor in entrees, such as pork chops with a peach and white-wine pan sauce, and in many salads.
In the latest of these, farro, a nutty Italian grain, acted as a base to the peaches, backed up by smoky bacon, fresh peppers, creamy, tangy feta, charred onions and peppery arugula. The re-created recipe here subs precooked brown rice (available frozen or shelf-stable in some stores) for the farro. But you could use any grain, from white rice to quinoa to farro itself, if available. (A pearled version showing up lately in specialty shops cooks up more quickly.)
SUMMERY GRAIN SALAD WITH PEACHES
- 3 cups precooked brown rice, or 1 1/2 cups uncooked pearled farro or quinoa
- 4 to 6 slices bacon
- 1 red onion, cut in 1/2-inch slices
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 to 4 medium peaches, chopped in 1/2-inch dice
- 6 ounces feta, crumbled
- 2 banana or melrose peppers, sliced very thinly crosswise, removing seeds and pith
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 bunch arugula, torn into pieces
Cook or heat the brown rice, farro or quinoa according to package directions. Spread on a cookie sheet to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet or on a griddle over medium-high heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove from skillet, leaving fat behind. Drain on paper towels; crumble bacon.
Cook the onions in the bacon fat, turning as needed, until slightly charred in spots and beginning to soften, 8 minutes. Sprinkle with teaspoon salt as they cook. Remove from skillet; coarsely chop.
Meanwhile, stir the peaches, feta and peppers together with the grain in a large bowl. Add the bacon and onions. Whisk together the oil, vinegar and teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Pour over the salad; stir gently to combine. Taste for salt; add more olive oil if it seems a bit dry. Can be chilled several hours and served later; bring to room temperature before serving. Stir in arugula leaves right before serving. Makes: 6 servings
Per serving: 307 calories, 16 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 33 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 615 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.