The almond pesto is also great with apples, arugula and/or chicken. Pesto recipe comes from “Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South
,” by Vivian Howard (Little Brown, 2016).
For almond pesto:
⅔ cup raw, whole almonds
Zest of ½ orange, removed with a Microplane (about 1 teaspoon)
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, cut into small, rough pieces
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons honey
½ cup orange juice, divided
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup cider vinegar
1 cup diced green beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups cantaloupe, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large peach, sliced, seed removed
1/2 cup orange juice
½ teaspoon orange zest
1 to 2 jalapenos, sliced, seeds removed
¼ cup toasted almond slices or slivers
2 slices thick cut bacon, cooked, crumbled (about ¼ cup)
Make pesto: Gently toast the almonds in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Let the almonds cool to room temperature and transfer them, the orange zest, cheese, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until they are coarsely chopped.
With the motor running, quickly stream in the honey, half the orange juice, half of the olive oil, and all of the lemon juice.
Transfer the almond mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the remaining orange juice and olive oil. Let the flavors marry a minimum of 1 hour before serving, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Make sure to you bring it to room temperature before pairing it with the summer salad.
While the almond pesto melds, place red onion and cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
Place ice cubes in a medium bowl of water. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add green beans and blanch for up to 2 minutes. Drain green beans and then add to ice bath. Let sit for up to 4 minutes. Drain beans, toss in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Set aside.
Toss cantaloupe melons and peach slices with orange juice and zest. Drain red onions and green beans.
Spoon a puddle of pesto on the bottom of each of four plates. Don’t be afraid. You want a teaspoon of almond in every bite, so puddle accordingly. Divide melon, peaches, red onion and green beans among the plates. Top each salad with jalapeno slices, almond slices, mint leaves and crumbled bacon.
Yield: 4 servings