Pickled Peach, Green Bean, Feta and Hazelnut Salad
Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a starter, light lunch or side dish
Personally, I am not keen on mixing fruits into salads, and I find the combination of strawberries and watermelon in savoury salads an acquired taste, but having said that, I could not resist this recipe.
This season I have enjoyed many delicious and superb-tasting peaches, and a few peach recipes have made their appearance because I am passionate about making the most of when they are in season.
The key to success for this recipe is to use the ripest peaches possible, as these will deliver the best flavour. This recipe is easy to make and can be prepared in advance. It is delicious served warm or chilled as a starter for a special dinner, or as a light lunch with buttered sourdough bread, or as a side dish alongside grilled pork chops. Alternatively, you can toss the whole lot into a bowl and serve it family-style on the table for everyone to tuck in and help themselves.
Ingredients & Method
For the pickled peaches
- 50g caster sugar
- 100ml cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 star anise
- a small pinch of dried chilli flakes
- 2 ripe fresh peaches
- 1 tablespoon cold-pressed rapeseed oil
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the salad
- 40g shelled hazelnuts (left whole)
- 200g green beans (prepared weight), tops removed and tails left on
- 160g barrel-aged feta cheese
First prepare the pickled peaches. Put the sugar, vinegar, coriander seeds, star anise, chilli flakes and salt and pepper into a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then increase the heat and bring to a rapid boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Halve, stone and cut each peach into 8 wedges. Place the peach wedges on a tray, season with salt and pepper and then coat in the oil. Preheat a ridged griddle pan over a high heat until hot. Add the peach wedges to the hot pan and griddle for about 2 minutes on each side, turning once, until dark griddle marks appear on both sides.
Transfer the griddled peaches to a suitable non-metallic container, pour over the pickling liquid, then leave to cool (see Cook’s Note).
Meanwhile, prepare the nuts for the salad. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Spread out the hazelnuts on a baking tray, then roast them in the oven for 4–5 minutes until golden brown and evenly coloured. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Cook the green beans in a pan of salted boiling water for 1½–2 minutes or until just tender. Drain, refresh them in iced water, then drain again (if you want to serve this salad warm, simply drain the beans, do not refresh in iced water and serve them immediately).
To serve, toss the green beans and pickled peaches (including the pickling liquid) together (discard the star anise), then arrange on serving plates. Crumble the feta cheese over the top. Lightly crush the toasted hazelnuts and scatter over the salad. Serve immediately and enjoy!
The pickling method used for the peaches in this recipe is called a quick pickle. The pickled peaches are ready to eat once they are cooled, or they can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.