Food & Drink

Grilled Peach Salad

Chef Kevin Johnson of the Grocery in Charleston makes magic with end-of-season stone fruit

photo: Andrew Cebulka


At the end of August when they’re at their sweetest, roasted South Carolina peaches outsell everything else on Charleston chef Kevin Johnson’s menu at the Grocery, the seasonal produce-forward restaurant he opened with his wife, Susan, in 2011. Johnson, who was born in Kentucky and honed his skills at the world-renowned Inn at Little Washington in Virginia, has put a version of this dish on the Grocery’s menu every summer, making tweaks along the way. “What’s fun about it,” he says, “is that you really are exploring all of the flavors that you can experience on one plate with salty, sweet, bitter, and creaminess.” 

photo: Andrew Cebulka

Chef Kevin Johnson plates a grilled peach salad at the Grocery.

The peaches are roasted in the Grocery’s wood-burning oven, caramelizing the outsides and making the insides extra juicy. (For home cooks, Johnson recommends a quick blast on a hot grill pan.) Building on the classic sweet-and-savory combination of fruit and pork, he pairs them with spicy Louisiana-style Tasso ham, a smoked cut of shoulder seasoned with cayenne, cloves, garlic, and peppercorn. Then, he tops off the dish with mild shishito peppers, goat cheese, and a savory granola made of ground pecans, oats, and benne seeds. 

“Later in the season as the days get hotter, the peaches tend to be a little juicier and sweeter,” Johnson says. “Better hurry though, peach season is waning.”


Ingredients

  • (YIELD: 6-8 SERVINGS)

    • 8 ripe peaches

    • 1 lemon

    • 1 bunch basil

    • 1 pinch red pepper flakes

    • 8 shishito peppers

    • 1 cup goat cheese

    • 2-4 tbsp. heavy cream

    • ½ cup Pecan Granola (recipe follows)

    • ¼ lb. Tasso ham, sliced thin

  • PECAN GRANOLA (YIELD: ABOUT 4 CUPS)

    • 1 cup oats

    • 1 cup sunflower seeds

    • ½ cup sesame seeds

    • 2 cups pecan pieces

    • 1 tbsp. chili powder

    • 1 tsp. paprika

    • 1/8 tsp. cayenne

    • 1½ tsp. kosher salt

    • 1 egg white

    • ⅓ cup canola oil

    • 2 tbsp. sorghum syrup or honey


Preparation

  1. Cut peaches into wedges. Zest lemon and juice, reserve juice for later. Thinly slice basil leaves. Slice shishito peppers lengthwise in half and set aside for grilling.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss peach wedges, lemon zest, pepper flakes, and one pinch of basil (saving the rest for garnishing). Set aside to marinate.

  3. Using a food processor, blend the goat cheese with heavy cream, 1 tbsp. at a time, until smooth, resembling the texture of thick heavy cream.

  4. Season marinated peaches and peppers with salt and pepper. Place onto a lightly oiled grilling surface. Grill on one side about 1-2 minutes without turning, until lightly charred.

  5. On a large platter or individual plates, neatly scatter grilled peaches and peppers. Add small spoonfuls of goat cheese. 

  6. Sprinkle entire plate with Pecan Granola. Place slices of Tasso ham evenly and garnish with reserved basil and a few drops of reserved lemon juice.

  7. For the granola: 

    Preheat oven to 350° F. Using a food processor, grind oats, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds into a powder and place into a mixing bowl. Pulse pecans until finely minced. Add to mixing bowl. Add chili powder, paprika, cayenne, and salt to nut-oat mixture and stir to combine.

  8. In a separate bowl, beat egg white until frothy. Stir in oil and sorghum. Gently coat nut mixture with egg white mixture and spread into even layer on baking sheet.

  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden—stir mixture halfway through to redistribute. Allow to cool to room temperature and store in airtight container (good for about one month).


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