Peach Salad with Balsamic-Glazed Cipollini Onions, Toasted Hazelnuts, and Mint Vinaigrette
½ pound cipollini onions (see note) or 8 shallots
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bunches watercress, stems trimmed (about 8 cups lightly packed)
4 ripe yellow peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into 8 slices each
About ¼ cup Mint Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and crushed (see note)
Flaked sea salt, such as Maldon
To prepare the onions
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with water and adding a tray of ice cubes.
- Blanch the onions in the boiling water for about 1 minute. Drain the onions and plunge into the ice bath. Drain the cooled onions in a colander and peel them.
- Put the onions in a mixing bowl and drizzle with oil. Pour in the vinegar, season with kosher salt and pepper, turn the onions over so they are well coated. Set the onions aside for 10 minutes to soak up the vinegar.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Transfer the onions, along with the vinegar, to a small baking pan. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the onions are tender and deep purple. Set aside to cool. Cut the cooled onions into quarters.
Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 350°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown. If there are skins on the hazelnuts, wrap the warm nuts snugly in a kitchen towel and rub them together to loosen the skins. Then put in a colander and shake to sift off the skins.
To crush the nuts, when they have cooled, put them in a resealable plastic bag and smash them with a mallet or heavy pan.
To serve Put the watercress in a large salad bowl. Add the peach segments and roasted onions and spoon on enough vinaigrette to coat lightly. Divide among four chilled small salad bowls, distributing the peaches and onions evenly. Top with hazelnuts and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.
Makes about 1 cup
1 ½ cups fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ grapeseed oil
Combine the mint, parsley, vinegar, garlic, shallot, sugar, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process for about 1 minute, until smooth and green. With the motor running, pour in the oil in a steady stream, making sure it directly hits the blade. Pour the vinaigrette into a jar, cover, and shake well just before using. Leftover vinaigrette can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
*Excerpted from Crossroads by Tal Ronnen with Scot Jones. (Artisan Books). Copyright (c) 2015. Photographs by Lisa Romerein.
Tal Ronnen, founder and chef of Crossroads and author of the New York Times bestseller The Conscious Cook, is known nationwide as the chef who prepared the meals for Oprah Winfrey’s 21-day vegan cleanse. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, Ronnen is the co-creator of Kite Hill Cheese, the first nondairy cheese sold at the high-end cheese counter at Whole Foods, and a collaborating chef at the Wynn and Encore hotels in Las Vegas. His new cookbook, Crossroads: Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant That Is Reinventing Vegan Cuisine, is out now from Artisan Books.