This is a summery salad, perfect for when peaches are at their peak, but it can easily be adapted to the seasons and the event. I served the salad at three very distinct gatherings: at my daughter’s first birthday, at a sisters’ wine tasting party, and at my book club, and it worked sans nuts and goat cheese for younger palates, full nuts and cheese with a crisp glass of white wine for the sistahs, and with accoutrements on the side for vegan, gluten-free, and nut allergy guests. Normally I wouldn’t serve the salad with peaches mid-September but the book, Mama Day, took place on an island near Georgia, so peaches it would be. Bearing in mind any literary or thematic strictures, I’d switch up the fruit for the seasons.
Try the salad in fall with apples and cranberries; winter with pears and pomegranate seeds, spring with apricots and cherries and summer with peaches and blackberries or a berry trio of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. The salad would also be nice with plums, strawberries, or mango, really almost anything that captures your fancy. The bare version sans accoutrements is perfectly lovely, but the dressed up version with pecans or pistachios and honey goat cheese is a perfect melding of all things good. You can even add some basil chiffonade or maple bacon lardons to make it over-the-top delicious.
The sherry vinaigrette comes together in a matter of minutes and is the perfect accompaniment to the fruit with its strong honey presence with a bit of tang and sass. You can certainly substitute champagne or raspberry vinegar for the sherry or ditch the vinaigrette altogether for store-bought dressing. I like the delicacy of a baby spring mix but feel free to substitute any salad mix with mesclun, red leaf, butter leaf and romaine.