She threw down the gauntlet when she said, “Just bring a salad.” Fine. Fine. I will “just” bring a salad.
And that is how this salad was born. And y’all? I haven’t lost a potluck yet with this baby. And that’s saying something when the salad is the star.
I had already made a version of this salad with dried cranberries and apples for the fall, but the dressing was a simple balsamic. It was a solid 7.
This salad? This salad is off the charts.
And I hate to be all competitive about potlucks, but let’s be honest- a potluck is really a playoff, and if you’re going to play, you better to play to win.
It is the perfect mix of savory and sweet, and I can’t even tell you what the bourbon vinaigrette does for the peaches and pecans. And if you’re worried it will have an overwhelming bourbon flavor, it doesn’t. It’s warm and spicy, but the vinegar and maple syrup impart most of the flavor. I’ve made this for years now, and my kids have never detected the bourbon.
They’ve also never caught a buzz, so don’t worry about inebriating minors, you won’t.
Salad Pro Tips
- The dressing is essential. Don’t be scared off by the bourbon. You won’t go to hell for it. I’ve seen many a teetotaler take her first trip into a package store to pick up some Buffalo Trace in order to make this dressing.
- The nuts. I buy mine from Publix- they are in the produce section with the packaged nuts. They are Praline Pecans. They are life-changing. If you can’t find them or you live in a part of the world where Publix doesn’t exist, you can buy candied pecans. Or you could make your own.
- Peaches and blueberries are divine together and are STRIKING in a white bowl. Appearance is half the victory, so make it pretty.
Clear eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose. Peaches Forever. If you’re going to play in the big leagues (hello southern potlucks), you’d better have a special recipe on the ready. This one is for when they tell you to “just bring a salad.”
- 1 small shallot, diced
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup bourbon (use a kitchen bourbon, NOT the good stuff)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (I just throw in a pinch)
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper (again, just throw a little in)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 3/4 cup avocado oil (olive oil works fine too)
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup roughly chopped praline pecans
- 1/4 cup goat cheese (optional)
- 5 oz. arugula
- 5 oz. spinach
- 1 cup chopped red cabbage
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 3–4 peaches, cut into large chunks (slices if you’re really going for a fancy look)
- 1/2 cup blueberries
For the Bourbon Vinaigrette
- Place diced shallot and apple cider vinegar in a high-speed blender or small food processor. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes. This mellows the shallots.
- Add bourbon, maple syrup, dijon, salt, and pepper.
- While the blender is running, slowly pour in the oil until it is all incorporated.
- YOU WILL HAVE EXTRA
For the Salad:
- Chop the arugula and spinach. (A lot of people are turned off by leaves and stems. I find a rough chop takes care of this and also makes it easier to load your fork. But if you don’t feel like chopping, then don’t)
- Toss with the cabbage and onions.
- Add peaches and blueberries reserving just a few of each to use on top.
- Add pecans
- Sprinkle goat cheese. It will meld with the dressing and make it creamy and just over the top
- We’ve substituted cherries, blackberries, plums, apples, apricots, and every berry you could imagine for the peaches and blueberries. You really can’t go wrong. In the fall try apples and dried cranberries. Dog Days of Summer – blackberries will work instead of blueberries.
- You’ll have a lot of dressing. The salad holds up well for a couple of days if it isn’t dressed, so I make a big batch of both and we eat it all week.
- The goat cheese is optional, but it will take the salad to the next level.
Keywords: bourbon, arugula, peaches, blueberries, vinaigrette, salad, potluck