Summer Plum Salad

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plums
I am plum crazy!

The farmers market is overflowing with delicious varieties in every color. Don’t be unnerved by the assortment–I know plums are “supposed to be purple.” Once teeth are sunk into the sweet, juicy flesh, color doesn’t matter. (As it should be.)

The ancient Romans, Japanese, and Chinese all knew the plum, and its uses varied from fresh and dried fruit to wine-making to medicinal use of the pit.

There are thousands of varieties worldwide and over a hundred available in the United States, mainly in the summer months. Colors include red, purple, green, yellow, amber, black, pink and variegated. Most common are the Damson, Greengage, Satsuma, Golden and Mirabelle. Dried plums are also popular, and go by the name prune. (Don’t get tricked into paying more for dried plums. They are still just prunes.)

Plums – like peaches, apricots, and cherries – are considered stone fruits because they have stones or pits in the center. They need not be peeled because the skins are thin, and not offensive to the palate. However if you insist, the skin can be removed by blanching and shocking, just the way you remove tomato skin. Score an “x” at the base of the ripened fruit, drop it in boiling water for 30 seconds, then immediately transfer it to ice water. When cool, the skin will slide right off.

Sweet plums and salty Roquefort are a delicious, though unusual, combination. Combined with this tangy dressing and crunchy nuts, this salad is an explosion of flavor.

Opal basil is another summer crop. It has a little more anise flavor than everyday green basil, but the green variety can be substituted.

INGREDIENTS

1 clove garlic, minced
2 scallions, minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
3 TB. white wine vinegar
1 TB. honey
1/3 cup olive oil
6-8 ripe plums, sliced into thin wedges
2 cups fresh opal basil leaves
1/4 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese
1-1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted and cooled

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl combine garlic, scallions, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add vinegar, honey, olive oil, and blend well. Set aside.
  2. In a salad bowl combine plums and basil leaves. Add enough dressing to lightly coat, and toss thoroughly. Serve topped with Roquefort and pecans.
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