Food & Drink

Corn, Avocado, and Peach Salad with Bourbon-Sesame Vinaigrette

Proof that bourbon pairs well with fresh summer flavors

A white bowl with corn, avocado, and peach salad.

Photo: Jessica Ebelhar

When cooking with bourbon, you can take the flavor in many different directions. You can use older bourbons to focus on the sweeter, richer notes that pair with charred flavors. Or you can highlight the lighter hay, fermented corn, and vegetal notes more prevalent in young bourbons (less than five years of age). They play beautifully with fresh summer ingredients that are bursting with natural sugars. This summer salad is bright and succulent, held together by the light, creamy dressing redolent of young bourbon. —Edward Lee, Bourbon Land: A Spirited Love Letter to My Old Kentucky Whiskey, with 50 Recipes

Read more about Edward Lee’s new book here


  • Corn, Avocado, and Peach Salad with Bourbon-Sesame Vinaigrette (Yield: 2 servings)

  • For the salad:

    • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil

    • ¾ cup cooked chickpeas, drained

    • 2 ears corn, shucked

    • 2 peaches, pitted and sliced

    • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced

    • ½ cup fresh Thai basil leaves, torn

    • 2 cups arugula

    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    • Bourbon-sesame vinaigrette (recipe follows)

  • For the bourbon-sesame vinaigrette (yields 1½ cups):

    • 1 cup bourbon

    • ½ cup tahini

    • 6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed

    • 4 tbsp. olive oil

    • 2 tsp. honey

    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cook the chickpeas: In a small pot, heat the oil until it reaches 325°F on an instant-read thermometer. Add the chickpeas and cook for 6 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel–lined plate. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Make the dressing: In a small pot, bring the bourbon to a simmer over high heat and cook until reduced to 3 tablespoons, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the reduced bourbon to a small bowl and add the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and honey.* Whisk well to combine. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and more lemon juice as needed. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Whisk again before using.

    *The creaminess of the tahini brings out the sweetness in the bourbon in this velvety dressing that proves how versatile bourbon can be. 

  3. Assemble the salad: Using a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels off the cob and place them in a large bowl. Add the peach and avocado slices to the bowl, then add the basil and arugula and toss. Add 1¼ cups of the vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper, and gently toss.

  4. Divide the salad between two plates, top with the crispy chickpeas, and drizzle a little more vinaigrette over the top. Serve immediately.

Excerpted from Bourbon Land by Edward Lee (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2024. Photographs by Jessica Ebelhar.

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