Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches, Applewood Bacon, Blue Cheese and Toasted Macadamia

Grilled Peach Salad with Applewood Bacon, Blue Cheese, Craisins and Toasted Macadamia

½ cup balsamic vinegar, good quality***
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 firm-ripe peaches , cut in half and pitted, each half cut in quarters
1 teaspoon sugar
4-½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, your best***, divided
8 cups lightly packed baby arugula (about 2-1/4 oz.)
½ cup craisins
2 teaspoons red or white wine, or apple juice
½ cup blue cheese**, crumbled, if you don't care for blue cheese, either goat cheese or fresh mozzarella would also be fabulous
1 pound applewood bacon*, cut in bite size pieces and cooked until crisp
½ cup macadamia nuts, toasted in a skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt until golden, stirring frequently.

1. Prepare a medium gas or charcoal grill fire.

2. Combine craisins and wine (or apple juice) in a small glass jar. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.

3. Combine the vinegar and rosemary or thyme sprigs in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture is thick, syrupy, and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the herb sprigs, and season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

4. Rub the peaches all over with 2 teaspoons of the oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill cut side down until both sides are lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Slice each half into thirds.

5. In a medium bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining 2-1/2 teaspoons oil (or more, to taste) and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange on a platter. Top with the peaches, craisins, bacon, and blue cheese. Drizzle with the reduced balsamic, to taste, and a bit more olive oil, if desired. ENJOY!

Reduced balsamic vinegar adds a tangy kick to peaches that are grilled to bring out their inherent sweetness. Be sure to choose nice, firm fruit; if the peaches are soft, they’ll collapse on the grill.
* ** *** see blog post for *'d notes

Adapted from Fine Cooking