~ This lovely Peach Salad is like delicious, happy summer sunshine in every single bite! Juicy peaches team up with fresh cherries, crunchy almonds, creamy goat cheese and a Honey Balsamic Dressing for an explosion of gorgeous flavors. It’s super easy to make, yet people go crazy over it, every time we serve it! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Vegetarian • Gluten Free •
Need a go-to, signature summer salad that’s quick and easy to throw together, yet special enough to share at all those summertime potlucks, family reunions and neighborhood cookouts?
Something effortless but impressive? That’ll have people nudging you to ask for the recipe?
Or maybe you’re looking for a refreshing side salad you can quickly assemble on a hot summer evening, to make a weeknight dinner feel more special?
Either way, this beautiful salad with peaches and summer cherries is a perfect choice!
Why You’ll Adore This Summer Peach Salad
This salad truly is an absolute standout. Wins raves every single time!
It channels warm, sweet sunshine-y flavors … yet it’s really, really simple to pull together. It’s got:
- Sweet, juicy, perfectly ripe peaches
- Fresh cherries (that fleeting summer heartthrob)
- Crunchy sliced almonds
- Creamy goat cheese
- All drizzled in a super-flavorful, tangy-sweet Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette!
I originally created this fresh Peach Salad recipe for a “Christmas in July” party. I wanted to riff on our hugely popular Salad with Goat Cheese, Pears and Candied Pecans, which is a favorite at the holidays. It highlights autumn-winter vibes with pears and dried fruit … so I leveraged that base concept but introduced more summer-fresh ingredients for a nod to our holiday traditions (but in July!).
Besides showcasing some of the most treasured summer fruits (instead of winter-y produce), I also tweaked the reader-favorite Maple-Balsamic Dressing from my original holiday salad.
- I swapped out the maple syrup in the Maple-Balsamic version, and used a touch of honey instead. Its fresh, light sweetness is ideal with fresh peaches.
- And, I used a white balsamic vinegar (you might also see similar products labeled as golden balsamic) instead of the typical brown-colored balsamic vinegar. Let’s talk more about that for a minute …
Which Balsamic Vinegar to Use for This Salad
I selected white (golden) balsamic purely because it looks so much prettier in this Peach Salad. Its golden color is like liquid sunshine, and it coats the salad with a gentle, subtle color, rather than overpowering the appearance with the dark-brown of typical balsamics.
White balsamic vinegars often have a slightly lighter flavor, too, but that’s really not a big deal in this salad either way. Brown and white-gold vinegars are often used interchangeably, and both will taste nice in your dressing.
The choice mostly comes down to appearance.
Don’t fret if you can’t find golden/white balsamic vinegar, or if you simply don’t want to buy another bottle to store in the pantry!
Regular, brown balsamic will still taste terrific. It just won’t look quite as pretty. Your choice … and your salad will be delicious, whichever you choose (I promise)!
All right! Ready to make this salad? Here’s all you have to do …
How to Make This Lovely Salad
• Rather than slicing the peaches, I prefer to cut them into bite-sized chunks. This makes the salad easier to eat, especially in summer picnic and outdoor potluck situations (as people balance plates on their laps and dig in with plastic sporks!).
• Pit your cherries and cut each of them in half. A cherry pitter is a lifesaver for this task!
• Now, about those almonds. Buy unsalted, thinly sliced ones, rather than slivered or whole almonds. Sliced ones offer the perfect amount of crunch without being toooo prominent amidst the soft, juicy peaches and cherries. If you wanna take the extra time to lightly toast them, you can certainly go for it, but I honestly never do.
Ingredient Tip: Crumbling Goat Cheese
To save time, purchase crumbled goat cheese in a little tub, rather than a log you have to crumble yourself. If you do buy a log, it’s definitely easiest to crumble when it’s very cold. You can even pop it in the freezer for just a few minutes, so it’s super cold (but not frozen). Work rather quickly, once you start crumbling, before your body heat makes it melty and smeary on your fingers.
Once you’ve got your ingredients ready, you’re all set to pull this recipe together in moments!
Heap your salad greens in a large bowl or on a deep, rimmed serving platter.
Alternately, if you’re making this salad as part of a fancier, plated meal (maybe a ladies’ luncheon or bridal shower), you can divide the greens among individual salad plates.
Pro Tip: Salad Construction
With salads like this, that are seriously jam-crammed with lots of yummy toppings, I find it works best to layer a little bit of the different toppings throughout the salad as you pile the greens into your serving bowl. That way, those tasty toppings don’t get all scooped off the top of the salad as the first guests file through the buffet line.
Then, artfully sprinkle the remaining peaches, cherries, almonds and goat cheese on top of your salad so it looks really inviting.
Wanna make your salad extra eye-catching, and fully channel those summer sunshine vibes?
Use a few extra peach slices to create a pretty sunburst on top!
It’s a simple but enticing way to carry the sunshine theme all the way through. And, it gives people a little hint at the sun-ripened fruit and golden-yellow dressing they’re about to enjoy as they dig into your colorful salad.
Making the wonderfully sweet and tangy white balsamic vinaigrette dressing is a snap.
Simply grab a small bowl and whisk your dressing ingredients (your vinegar, honey, oil, mustard and salt) together. You want the vinaigrette to emulsify, and you also want to be certain all the salt has dissolved.
You can make your dressing a few days ahead and stash it in the fridge. Quickly re-whisk it before serving (the oil may need a couple of minutes to warm back up), to re-emulsify it and bring everything smoothly back together.
To prevent your gorgeous salad from getting soggy, I always recommend that you dress this type of green salad right before you serve it.
Alternately, you can also set the dressing alongside the salad so everyone can dress their own portion, or pass the dressing at the table.
How to Choose Great Peaches
Making a salad with peaches means that you want the peaches to be really fabulous. Juicy, and sweet and hugely flavorful.
But sometimes it’s hard to find peaches that measure up. You know … those disappointing ones that are mealy and kinda dry and flavorless. *SAD*
How do you know for sure if the unripe peaches you see in the grocery store will ripen into those glorious poster-children of summertime bliss?
Well, I’ve got some tips to help you out and improve the odds!
Look for peaches that have varied, vibrant tones and colors. But, avoid one specific color: green. A green peach is an indicator that the peach was picked too early. The entire peach may not be ablaze in deep russets and oranges, though – expect to see lighter areas here and there, where the peach got less sunlight.
But once you get those carefully selected peaches home, how can you tell when they’re ready to eat? Onto the next tip …..
How to Know When Your Peaches Are Perfectly Ripe and Ready to Use
Peaches get sweeter and juicier as they ripen. For the best, most flavorful salad, you want to wait for your peaches to fully ripen into glorious, sweet and juicy perfection!
So, how can you tell when your peaches get to that stage?
Just give them a gentle squeeze, particularly up on their shoulders. If they slightly yield to your gentle pressure, you should be good to go. (It’s always best to plan at least a day or two ahead if you want to make this salad, to ensure your peaches have enough time to ripen fully.)
Outstanding fruit will make for an outstanding summertime salad!
Adjusting the Yield of This Recipe
I’ve written the recipe card below to make a fairly large bowl of salad. Perfect for a summer party!
But it’s simple to adjust the amounts down … or, heck … even to double or triple them for a really BIG gathering.
Use the approximate topping amounts as a guide, but don’t stress over being completely precise on the fruit, nut and cheese toppings. You can vary those amounts slightly to taste, anyway.
The key is to make sure you’ll have enough vinaigrette. I always over-estimate on the salad dressing, since some people pour heavily. Plus, the dressing refrigerates great for several days, so I’m delighted to have leftover dressing to enjoy later!
Grilled salmon and chicken are both great paired with Peach Salad. Either would also be a delicious option to serve on top, to add protein and pivot this recipe from a side dish to an all-in-one, main dish salad.
Sure! We prefer almonds in this fresh recipe, and love how almonds pair with summer stone fruit like peaches and cherries. But, in a pinch, feel free to choose another nut, if you prefer. Peaches and crunchy pecans are another nice pairing (like in our summery Praline Peach Oatmeal). Do note, however, that we’re using unsalted nuts in this salad, and selecting a salted nut could make the overall flavor of your salad too salty.
To some extent, this is a matter of personal preference, of course. But, in my opinion, goat cheese is definitely the way to go. The other typical cheeses to show up in this type of salad aren’t nearly as well suited to highlight the delicate flavors of the fresh peaches and cherries. Salty feta cheese is too … well, salty. Fresh mozzarella is too mild and lacks the slightly savory tang to offset the sweet fruit. And blue cheese (depending on the variety) can simply be far too assertive. Goat cheese offers a nice balance with all the other cast members here, and it’s my clear preference in this particular summer salad recipe.
As explained by The Kitchn, nectarines and peaches are – genetically speaking – practically identical. Nectarines simply have a recessive gene for smooth skin. They may also (but not always) tend to be a bit smaller and firmer in texture than peaches. Both fruits are available in yellow and white varieties, and in freestone (the pit easily separates from the flesh) or clingstone (the pit and flesh cling together and need to be cut apart) varieties. I’ve always used the two fruits more or less interchangeably, depending on which one looks best at the market (refer to how to choose a great peach in the article above). Either will work nicely in this recipe!
If you could taste happy, warm summer sunshine, I bet it just might taste like this pretty, fresh Peach Salad. It’s absolutely the best salad for celebrating summertime.
Give it a try and see if you agree!
Without a doubt, at the very least, I can predict that it’ll become a go-to for you all through summer peach season. Impressively lovely and delightfully delicious … yet so very simple, simple to prepare.
Ahhhhhh … just the way a summer recipe should be!
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Peach Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese
This pretty salad is like delicious, happy summer sunshine in every single bite! The recipe is written to serve a crowd, but it's easy to scale down for smaller family dinners, and you can roughly estimate the amount of the different toppings to suit your preferences. Always crazy-popular – be ready to hand out the recipe!
• Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Vegetarian • Gluten Free •
- 10 ounces salad greens (such as spring mix and spinach blend)
- 2 3/4 cups peaches (or white peaches or nectarines), from about 3 peaches, pitted and chopped (plus extra to form a "summer sunshine" decoration on top, if desired)
- 1 pound fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted and cut in half (about 70 cherries to equal about 2 3/4 cups)
- 1 cup sliced almonds (unsalted)
- 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- 1/4 cup white or golden balsamic vinegar (can sub regular balsamic; see note)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard (see gluten free note if needed)
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Place the greens in a large serving bowl (or divide among individual salad plates), layering in a little bit of the peaches, cherries, almonds, and cheese as you build the salad. Sprinkle the remaining peaches, cherries, almonds, and goat cheese over the top of the salad. (Optionally, arrange a few additional peach slices in a sunshine pattern on top, as shown in the photo in the article above.)
- For the dressing, whisk together balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, mustard, and salt until emulsified.
- Dress the salad just before serving, or pass the dressing at the table.
Yield: I created this salad specifically for larger summer gatherings, but you can easily adjust the yield to make a smaller amount for a family dinner. You don't have to be exactly precise in measuring the toppings if you adjust the yield, as you can scale each topping up or down to your liking.
Balsamic Vinegar: As discussed in more detail in the article above, white (aka golden) balsamic vinegar is a great choice when you want your vinaigrette dressing to have a lighter color. The taste will still be fine if you substitute regular (brown) balsamic vinegar, but the final dressing will be brown instead of sunshine-yellow.
Serving tips: Just like with our popular Salad with Goat Cheese, Pears and Candied Pecans, this salad is loaded with toppings, which is exactly how my family likes it best. Feel free to tweak the exact proportions to suit your family's tastes. Also, if you're going to serve the salad buffet-style and want to pre-dress it, it's important to add the dressing just prior to serving, so the greens don't wilt upon standing too long. When pre-dressing the salad, you may want to reserve some of the dressing and offer it at the side, since some people prefer their salads more lightly dressed than others.
Gluten free mustard: While many (but not all) mustards are inherently gluten free, if you're watching your gluten intake, be sure to look for a brand that is specifically labeled as gluten free.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 22 servings Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 91Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 49mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 2gSugar: 7gProtein: 3g
Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.