In this election year, heres a divisive issue (although not as polarizing as the flavor of cilantro). Do you like fruit in your salad? My mom was the first person I ever knew to put fruit in her salad. Her classic combination was romaine lettuce with avocados, walnuts and fresh oranges with a simple vinaigrette that incorporated any juice that had escaped the orange when she diced it. Its still one of my favorite salads.
This year we are seeing a lot of watermelon, stone fruit like peaches and nectarines, and berries, often combined with goat cheese, livening up salad greens. My ideal salad often incorporates a fruit, a cheese and a nut or seed, in addition to fresh greens like butter lettuce or arugula, and a light dressing. But I realize that not everyone enjoys the sweet and juicy flavors of fruit in their salad. Traditionalists prefer the classic additions like cucumbers and carrots and tomatoes (which are technically a fruit).
My friend Chef James Briscione of Just Married and Cooking, gets a little outraged (good naturedly, of course), at the mere thought of someone putting berries in his salad or dressing, while his wife Brooke Parkhursts signature salad includes sliced nectarines, corn and feta cheese. Despite their salad differences, they are a well-matched pair, and they do seem to agree on adding grapes to their Wheatberry Waldorf Salad.
Personally, I find that the contrast of sweet fruit with a slightly bitter lettuce and a salty cheese excites my palate and helps me enjoy a fresh and nutritious salad. I also find that some kids, especially those who seem naturally drawn to sweet flavors, are more likely to tuck into a green salad that includes fresh or dried fruit or a sweet raspberry vinaigrette.
The combination of flavors and textures in this Chicken and Nectarine Salad are delectable, and its ingredients are power food for your brain, according to neurosurgeon Larry McCleary, M.D., from whose book, Feed Your Brain, Lose Your Belly, I adapted the recipe. Serve it with a whole grain baguette.
Do you like fruit in your salads? If so, what are your favorite combinations?