Peaches ‘n Cheese Salad

Fresh peaches and nectarines just say ‘summer’ to me. They star in markets for a couple months and don’t boast near year-round availability, even in California where we tend to be spoiled with long growing seasons.  So I get really excited about this juicy stone fruit, for eating out of hand and in recipes. And if you’re reading this in the fall or winter, try thinly sliced Fuju Persimmons instead of peaches.

I especially like peaches and nectarines with cheeses like soft goat cheese, Pecorino or Muenster, served with nuts and crackers for a simple summer appetizer.  California Tree Fruit Agreement, the marketing board for peaches, nectarines and plums, has some great cheese recommendations and recipes too.

Another favorite is this salad with feta cheese, sweet balsamic dressing and spiced nuts. Though there are three parts to prepare, the dressing makes extra so you’ll have a home-made dressing ready for later, and leftover spiced nuts make a great snack. Or, you can easily short-cut by using purchased balsamic dressing and toasted nuts.  The peaches star anyway!

Print This Recipe
Feta, Peach and Spinach Salad
Makes 4 servings

1 package (6 oz.) baby spinach
1 large ripe peach, pitted, sliced, or fuju persimmon
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
3-4 tablespoons Maple Balsamic dressing
3 ounces crumbed feta or soft goat cheese
1/2 cup Spiced Candied Nuts

PLACE spinach, peach slices and dried cherries in a large bowl.  Add about 3 tablespoons dressing and mix well, adding additional dressing if needed. Divide salad onto plates and top with feta cheese and nuts.


Maple Balsamic Dressing

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

COMBINE all ingredients in a covered container. Shake well.  Adjust lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Makes about 1 cup.  (This recipe multiples easily to make a quantity to have on hand.)


Spiced Candied Nuts

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon allspice
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 cups pecan and walnut halves

MIX sugar, salt, allspice, and cayenne in a small bowl.  Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Remove from heat; add nuts.  Let stand 30 seconds; drain in a colander. Return nuts to saucepan. Stir sugar mixture into hot, wet nuts. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Spread nuts evenly onto pan. Bake at 350°F about 15 minutes until toasted and glazed, stirring every 5-6 minutes. Cool. Store airtight. Makes 3 cups.
Kitchen Tips 

  • When choosing peaches and nectarines look for an even yellow background color with no green around the stem. They should have a fragrant aroma too.
  • If the fruit seems too hard for your preference when purchased – because it’s nearly impossible to transport fully ripened without damage –  store in a closed paper bag at room temperature out of direct sunlight for a day or two. The ethylene gas from the fruit will allow the fruit to naturally ripen and soften.
  • Once ripe, eat right away or refrigerate up to 2 days.
  • For more tips and information on stone fruit varietals and availability check

Recipe developed by Rosemary Mark for Stella-Saputo Cheese.

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