Nectarine, Blueberry, and Goat Cheese Salad with Fresh Basil Vinaigrette
(courtesy of Debbie Branby, owner of The Cheese Board in Reno. Serves 8)
This is one of Debbie Branby’s favorite summer salads, one of many colors, textures, and tastes (which is what you want in an entrée salad). If you wish, you can add protein — grilled chicken or shrimp is delicious. (If you use protein, add another cup of greens per person). Add a grain, too, if desired, such as red quinoa or pearl couscous tossed with a bit of dressing. If goat cheese isn’t your favorite, switch to blue cheese. You will have extra vinaigrette (it keeps for a couple of days): Try it on arugula with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and toasted pistachios — “Delicious,” Branby says.
For the salad:
12 cups (lightly packed) mesclun greens
4 nectarines, halved, pitted, and cut into eighths
8 ounces blueberries
8 ounces soft goat cheese, slightly frozen and grated with a Microplane (or crumbled by hand)
½ cup toasted pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the vinaigrette (makes 6 cups):
2 bunches fresh basil, stems removed
1 shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup champagne vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups canola oil
Using a blender, mix all ingredients except oil. Slowly stream in oil to emulsify and thin with a little water, if necessary. Taste for additional salt and pepper. Refrigerate.
To construct salad:
In large bowl, toss greens with ½ cup of dressing to lightly coat leaves. In separate small bowl, toss nectarines and blueberries with 2 tablespoon of vinaigrette. Arrange dressed greens on platter or individual plates, scatter fruit and chopped pecans over top, and shower salad with grated goat cheese. Drizzle with a bit more dressing, if you like.