Too hot too cook? Try Summer peach salad with chocolate vinaigrette.

When it's too hot to cook, this summer salad from Matt Kadey's 'The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook' has enough protein and flavor to serve as a main course for dinner.

Kitchen Report
Fresh peaches, prosciutto, mozzarella, mint, dried cherries, and almonds drizzled with a chocolate dressing combine for a flavorful dinner salad.
'The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes for When It's Too Hot to Cook,' by Matt Kadey (2013, Ulysses Press)

A few weeks ago I received a cookbook to review: “The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes for When It's Too Hot to Cook” by Matt Kadey. With summer temperatures in Boston this year especially sultry for days and days on end, it seemed like a perfect time to test out one of the recipes.

Flipping through breakfast, starters and sides, main dishes, and desserts, Peach Salad with Chocolate Vinaigrette caught my eye. Fresh peaches, prosciutto, mozzarella, mint, dried cherries, and almonds drizzled with a chocolate dressing? What’s not to like? And it was considered a main dish. Chocolate for dinner, hooray!

I don’t have too much experience using chocolate in savory dishes. When I attended Chocolate Week at the Cotton Tree Lodge with Taza Chocolate in Belize, the experience culminated with a grand dinner that included chocolate in every course. The main course was chicken mole. Taza Chocolate introduced me to chocolate covered cacao nibs and I’ve started using them to add flavor and crunch in anything from smoothies to salads.

Matt Kadey’s chocolate vinaigrette dressing has some of those elements found in Mexican cooking with its spicy and heat flavors provided by Dijon mustard and chili flakes. I was a little skeptical but somehow all the flavors work. The dressing is both tangy and sweet, with a salty finish. The key really is to just drizzle enough for flavoring so the peach doesn’t get overpowered. Another tip: If you have any leftover vinaigrette and it solidifies, just add a teaspoon or two of hot water and stir until it liquifies again. The recipe notes indicate that the mozzarella can be swapped out for goat cheese.

After a run in 80 degree humid heat one evening this week, pulling together this salad when I got home was quick, tasty, and satisfying. Best of all: no cooking.

Peach salad with chocolate vinaigrette

From “The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook” by Matt Kadey

Serves 4

3 cups baby spinach

3 cups arugula

1/4 cup fresh mint

2 ripe peaches, thinly sliced

2 ounces prosciutto, sliced

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds

1/2 cup dried cherries (optional)

In a large bowl, toss together the spinach, arugula, mint, and peaches. Divide the salad among the serving plates and top with equal amounts of prosciutto, mozzarella, almonds, and cherries if using. Drizzle chocolate dressing over top.

Chocolate dressing:

2 ounces dark chocolate (about 1/2 cup) finely chopped

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Pinch of dried red chile flakes

Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring water to a boil in an electric kettle pour 1/2 cup over the chocolate, and let sit 10 minutes without stirring. Carefully drain as much water as possible from the bowl and immediately stir in the olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt, and chile flakes until smooth.

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