Peach, chicken & arugula summer salad

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I'm so excited to be down here in North Carolina! Carrboro is a beautiful place, one town over from Chapel Hill. One of the best parts about living down here so far is these WONDERFUL peaches; they are absolutely delicious.

After picking up a crate of these giant, juicy peaches at good old Trader Joe's (yet another plus to living down here), I got inspired and snagged a few more ingredients to throw together a yummy summer salad. Salads are one of my favorite dinners during these hot months -- while light and refreshing, you can still toss those leafy greens with all sorts of fruits, veggies, proteins and other nutrient dense toppings.

What I really wanted to do was to bring out the sweetness of the peaches while balancing their flavor with something savory and salty. I decided to make a blackberry balsamic dressing, which would give me both sweetness and acid, and also throw in some creamy goat cheese and garlic for my savory components. The extra plus to the blackberry balsamic dressing was that the acid increased the bio-availability of the nutrients in the arugula, specifically iron (bio-availability = how well your body can absorb a nutrient from the food source).

I started out by mincing 1 clove of garlic.

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I then took half of the minced clove and rubbed it over 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast with 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp thyme, and a dash of salt and pepper. I covered this plate with plastic wrap and popped it in the refrigerator to marinate while I prepared the rest of the meal.

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Onto my blackberry balsamic concoction. I started by sautéing the other 1/2 of my clove of garlic in 2 tsp olive oil over low heat, just until they started to sizzle -- garlic burns quickly once it starts to cook. I then added 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup seedless, "just fruit" blackberry preserves (no added sugar, but just as sweet!).

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I let the mixture simmer and stirred it until the preserves were melted. I added a few tablespoons of water while I was cooking down the reduction to keep it from getting too thick. After a few minutes, the sauce was just thick enough to coat the spoon without gelling up, so I set it aside to cool.

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While the reduction was cooling, I plated my produce. Trader Joe's has a great selection of pre-washed and packaged greens that are very well-priced, which saved me a lot of time in preparing this meal. I placed about two handfuls of arugula on the plate and cut a whole, washed peach into slices to place on top of the arugula.

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It was then time to throw the marinated chicken onto the hot George Foreman grill (love that thing). After grilling the chicken for 5 minutes, it came out tender and fully cooked. Finally, I sprinkled 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese on the salad, and drizzled some of the blackberry balsamic dressing (about 1/2 was leftover) with another teaspoon of olive oil over everything.

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Now that's a meal meant to be eaten on the porch. Delish.

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Get Recipe Here