There is no love in my heart for summer’s heat. My ideal temperature hovers between “comfortable in a sleeveless t-shirt” and “hmmm, might want a sweater.” Being hot annoys me. It feels like a personal insult from the universe, and my attitude responds accordingly.
The reason I don’t just pack myself off to the Outer Hebrides is the incredible bounty of luscious fruit and plump veggies summer brings our way. Stone fruit, in particular, is a weakness of mine. Peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries … any and all of them take my breath away. The kids and the husband love them, too: dessert at this time of year is often an exquisitely ripe peach or a fistful of dark cherries.
Sometimes, my cooking is inspired by a trip to the farmer’s market, desire to try a new technique, or a great sale on something special. This one? Well, it was my summer kitchen math.
Summer kitchen math goes something like:
93 degrees = too hot too cook = fast + single bowl + no stove.
I was also feeling indulgent and could not stop thinking about having dessert for dinner. So I came up with an excuse to do just that.
My beloved stone fruit takes center stage, along with crisp romaine lettuce, leftover roast chicken, and a touch of lemon thyme. I finished it with a drizzle of maple lemon dressing so delectable it made me want to lick the bowl.
Variations: If you enjoy dairy, crumble in a touch of bleu cheese. A handful of slivered almonds is also an excellent addition.
- One head of romaine lettuce, washed
- 1/2 medium sweet onion such as Walla Walla
- Leftover chicken breast from roast chicken
- Four small peaches
- 1 cup dark cherries
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme
- Bleu cheese (optional)
- Slivered almonds (optional)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- With a sharp knife, thinly slice the lettuce into strips. Place in a large salad bowl.
- Roughly dice the onion; add to the salad bowl.
- Remove the chicken breast from the carcass.Slice in thin strips and add to the bowl.
- Cut the peaches in half, removing the pits. Slice each half into eighths (in other words, sixteen slices from each peach).
- Slice the cherries in half, removing the pits. Add the fruit to the salad bowl.
- Sprinkle the lemon thyme into the salad. Using your hands, gently toss the salad together. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously together.
- Drizzle over the salad. If using optional blue cheese and/or almonds, add them now. Serve immediately.