4 ripe peaches
2 cups apple cider or apple juice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
4 whole cloves
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (chopped medium fine)
2 medium-size ribs celery, chopped medium fine
3 medium-size scallions (white and green parts), chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper
4 handfuls (about 8 ounces) arugula or other soft greens, such as Boston lettuce
2 tablespoons shallot vinaigrette (or your favorite vinaigrette)
Peel the peaches with a small sharp knife. Cut them in half, and carefully remove the pits, keeping the halves intact. Set them, cut side down, in a skillet or shallow saucepan that is just big enough to hold them all in one layer.
Combine the cider, cumin, and cloves in a small measuring cup or bowl, and pour the mixture over the peaches. The liquid should just cover the fruit. Bring the liquid to a simmer over low heat, and cook until the peaches are tender, about 10 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the peaches to a flat-bottomed plate or dish, still cut side down, leaving the liquid in the skillet. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, and boil until it is thick, syrupy, and reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Pour the syrup over the peach halves. Refrigerate them, covered, for about 2 hours.
When you are ready to serve the salad, combine the chicken, celery, scallions, mayonnaise, and black pepper to taste in a medium-size bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly, and then add salt to taste.
Toss the arugula with the vinaigrette in a large bowl. Divide the greens among four medium to large plates, scattering them in the center of each plate. Place a mound of the chicken salad, slightly off-center, on top of each serving of greens. Set two peach halves next to each mound of chicken salad. Serve right away so that the greens do not wilt.
Cook's notes: When peaches are not in season, add halved fresh grapes to the chicken salad and stir to combine. You can also use the chicken salad in sandwiches, increasing the amount of mayonnaise slightly if desired.
"The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook" by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman (Workman, 2013)