Not just another roast chicken salad – this one has seared halloumi in it, and it is simply peachy!
Fruit as an ingredient
There is fruit that should be eaten as fruit and other kind that is not quite as simple as that. Take a bowl of strawberries or an apple: you’re perfectly happy to have it on its own, for a healthy snack.
But you wouldn’t quite grab a tranche of melon or a whole fig and do the same, would you? Those kinds of fruit are an ingredient rather than a meal in itself, necessary to be paired with other things in a salad, a starter or a dessert.
Evidently it is not a universal rule: for all I know there will be people who eat the whole pomegranate instead of daintily pick arils to adorn a salad or a cake. Or those who bite into a passion fruit or a mango for a snack.
But probably everyone would agree that peaches and nectarines are like apples: perfectly good to eat as they are. Everyone except me.
Peaches in savoury dishes?
I enjoy peaches a lot but I feel there has to be something done to them or with them before they are served. And it does not necessarily have to be a sweet, desserty ‘something’. In fact, fruit in savoury dishes is much underrated: chicken, cheese and fruit salad? Yes please!
This is one of those dishes that doesn’t quite know whether to be a salad or a meat course, and it is all the better for that. I usually assemble it on a pile of lettuce leaves and serve the chicken warm, but on the other hand the halloumi cheese needs to be served straight off the pan, so it’s hot and gooey.
A warm salad then, in a nutshell.
How to roast chicken breast fillet?
Even though you are perfectly welcome to use ready-roasted chicken in this dish, we all stock the freezer with those boring fillets and then wonder how to cook them. This then is a good idea for a couple of chicken breasts defrosted the night before.
The key to cooking chicken breast well is not to overcook it. I know – most of us have a hysterical phobia of uncooked chicken, but we tend to try to avoid it by producing dried out, cardboard-like shreds of meat.
First off, chicken fillet cooks best in not too hot an oven, 160C or thereabouts. Season it liberally with salt and drizzle with some oil, especially if cooking skinless fillets, then roast for 25-30 minutes for average sized chicken breasts.
If I’m cooking the chicken for a salad like the one below or for slicing into sandwiches, I switch the oven off after the twenty-odd minutes and leave the chicken in there to rest until I want to use it. That method ensures it is cooked through but still juicy and succulent.
Peaches and squeaky cheese
The idea of the peach salsa atop halloumi is taken from Rosie Birkett’s Sunday Times recipe column. I loved the idea immediately, especially that it reminded me of a divine dessert I had in Finland.
Finnish squeaky cheese, leipäjuusto, tastes very much like halloumi when grilled. It is served for pudding with local berry preserve. Gorgeous – and I always knew I was onto something when spreading jam over my cheese on toast.
But the combination of squeaky cheese and sweet-sharp fruit topping can play its part very well in a savoury dish as well as a dessert. And chicken as we know is such a bland canvas, it will only benefit from a sharp, striking salsa.
Plus, this is ideal for when you need to feed several people with a modest amount of chicken but always keep a brick of halloumi in your fridge.
How to make the peach salsa
It is such good stuff you’ll want to put it on everything, I promise. The amount of chilli can be varied according to your taste, but don’t skip it altogether: that tiny burst of heat will highlight the sweetness.
And don’t skip the mint!
More chicken breast fillet recipes
Teriyaki chicken, with homemade teriyaki marinade and sauce which is not only easy to make but also vastly superior to anything you can buy.
Another salad-or-not-a-salad with chicken breast is the chicken, sweetcorn and feta combo.
Cooking chicken chunks in a spicy Creole sauce makes them taste utterly out of this world.
More peach recipes
Another savoury peach dish: starter or dessert of baked peach with blue cheese and savoury crumble.
More traditional use of peaches is in a cake – buttery peach pound cake or how to make a cake from a smoothie!
And you might not realise that peaches are as good a jamming fruit as apricot, or maybe better.