Thursday, July 25, 2013

Grilled Peach and Portobello Salad (with roasted asparagus and Cajun garlic bread)

Inspired by Panfusine and the mounds of peaches spilling over the produce aisles, I created this salad. I was afraid that the fruit would add a ruinous sweetness, but grilling it deepened its flavor, lending the salad a subtle and mature taste of midsummer. Spicy arugula, sundried tomatoes, salty feta, and scallions balance the earthiness of the mushrooms and deliver pungency. Lemon kicks the salad into life.

serves 4 to 6


3 or 4 portobello mushrooms
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
2 peaches, sliced
1 yellow tomato, cut in wedges
handful or so of sundried tomatoes (I use the basil-scented kind that comes sliced in a bag)
1 scallion, sliced
aged feta
1 lemon

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

1 crusty baguette 
garlic powder
Cajun seasoning
dried basil


Preheat the oven to 425.

Slather the mushrooms in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The tipsy crumpet has a failsafe method: pour a puddle of olive oil into your hand, then hastily slap it on the mushrooms, trying to smear them all with an equal amount. Do the same with the vinegar. Add a little salt and pepper.

Coat the asparagus with olive oil, then grind some salt and pepper over the spears.

Put mushrooms on one baking sheet; put asparagus on another. Put both sheets in the oven.

Let roast for 10 minutes. Flip the mushrooms. Add the peaches to the mushroom sheet. Roast for another 10 minutes, checking with a fork to see if everything is tender. Remove from oven when this occurs.

Meanwhile, slice baguette into sections, then cut each section lengthwise. Drizzle the interior of each side with olive oil, then sprinkle with garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, and dried basil. Put baguette slices in oven and bake until the outside is crunchy and the interior is steamy-tender.

Lay down a nest of arugula on the plates of you and your guests. Add tomato wedges, sundried tomatoes, and scallions. 

When the mushrooms are cool enough to handle, slice them into wedges.

Top the salad with the mushroom wedges and peach slices. Crumble feta on top. 

You could chop up the asparagus and put it in the salad, but I prefer it as an accompaniment, its long green elegance adding variety to the plate.

Squeeze lemon liberally over both salad and asparagus. Serve garlic bread in the center of the table, wrapped in foil.


  • You can grill the mushrooms, peaches, and asparagus on an outdoor grill instead of using an oven.
  • I tried this salad both hot and cold, and it works better when the warmth and juiciness of the grilled ingredients contrast with the cool dryness of the arugula.
  • This salad needs no other dressing but lemon, but you can experiment with olive oil and various vinegars. Champagne vinegar might be nice.
  • Bleu cheese would be a good replacement for the feta if you're so inclined. I recommend a porous, soft cheese and not a hard cheese so that it can better meld with the ingredients.


4 stars. Seasonal salad with piquant flavor accents.

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