Peach and Blackberry Bread Salad

This recipe is from the book Big Heart, Little Stove by Erin French, published in 2023. My girlfriend gifted it to me after I fell in love with Ms. French’s first book – The Lost Kitchen. This same friend was the one who first told me about the show called The Lost Kitchen, which is filmed at Ms. French’s restaurant in Freedom, Maine. If I were to use one word to describe the passion and talent of this young woman, especially given some struggles in her past, it’s beautiful.

Ms. French is not professionally trained as a chef, but it doesn’t matter. She was trained by working in her father’s diner in her early years. I think that’s why she’s so comfortable in a kitchen.

What she does behind the stove is extraordinary. There’s more about her in my post Shrimp Stew and The Lost Kitchen. If you haven’t seen the show, I highly recommend it. Ms. French hires girlfriends, for the most part, also not culinary experts, and the comraderie is impressive.

What especially excites me, is that Ms. French takes advantage of the incredible bounty that Maine has to offer, not only for seafood, but also for the herbs, flowers, twigs, and more that decorates her already pretty food. It’s like she decorates with nature.

“In my book, bread salads are obsession-worthy. There is something so insanely perfect about chunky, golden croutons that have been plumped up by a good soak in a vinaigrette. Add the sweetness of fruit and the crunch of cucumber, plus a handful of fresh herbs, and you’ve got the side dish of the summer. Make this one a main event by serving it heaped over a bed of arugula with a scoop of fresh goat cheese and a glass of crisp white wine.”

Peach and Blackberry Bread Salad

For the vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes good bread, such as French or ciabatta
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 firm but ripe peaches
1 English cucumber
1/2 pint blackberries (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, gently torn
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves removed
2 sprigs fresh mint, leaves removed and gently torn
Edible flowers, such as pansies or nasturtiums, for garnish

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and shallots and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes for the flavors to meld and the shallots to soften. Whisk in the olive oil into the shallot mixture and add a few cracks of pepper. Set aside.

In a large cast-iron skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Toss in the bread cubes and toast, frequently shaking the pan, until the bread is golden on all sides about 4 minutes. Season with a sprinkle of salt and a few cracks of pepper. Transfer the croutons to a large bowl and set aside.

Halve and pit the peaches, then slice into 1/2-inch wedges. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and use a spoon to remove the seeds. Slice the cucumber into 1/4-inch half-moons. Transfer the peaches and cucumbers to the bowl of croutons, add the vinaigrette, and toss. Let sit for 10 minutes to marinate.

I unfortunately purchased a cling-style nectarine which was challenging to de-pit and slice.

Add the blackberries, basil, tarragon, and mint to the bowl and gently toss to combine. (I only used basil.)

Garnish with edible flowers, and serve.

I considered adding feta to the salad, or maybe burrata, but this salad is just simple perfection. I left it as is.

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

37 Comments

  1. Judee Gluten Free A-Z blog July 11, 2024 at 6:14 AM - Reply

    This certainly is one beautiful looking salad and I’ll bet really tasty as well. As I vegan, it’s perfect without any added cheese.

    • Chef Mimi July 11, 2024 at 7:18 AM - Reply

      Ah yes! For once, I didn’t miss any cheese!

  2. Eva Taylor July 11, 2024 at 6:54 AM - Reply

    What a gorgeous salad for these heat filled days. I shall try to look for that show, I haven’t seen a good cooking show in ages.

    • Chef Mimi July 11, 2024 at 7:19 AM - Reply

      It’s not a traditional cooking show, but try it out. She has a lot of fans!

  3. beth July 11, 2024 at 7:57 AM - Reply

    oh, yumm!

    • Chef Mimi July 11, 2024 at 8:25 AM - Reply

      I know. It was really incredible!

  4. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen July 11, 2024 at 8:09 AM - Reply

    This sounds really delicious, and I love a bread salad. I have the first book, The Lost Kitchen, and I’ve seen a couple of episodes of the series. Love the restaurant’s focus on what is local and fresh, and I agree that her story is quite inspiring! Someday, maybe I’ll join the lottery!

    • Chef Mimi July 11, 2024 at 8:26 AM - Reply

      And there’s so much to choose from in Maine, although you know that already, living in Vermont! I’m especially envious of the seafood!

      • Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen July 11, 2024 at 8:31 AM

        So much of New England’s seafood comes from either Maine or Mass, and it’s all wonderful!

      • Chef Mimi July 11, 2024 at 5:45 PM

        Yes. Rub it in….

      • Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen July 11, 2024 at 7:45 PM

        We’ll treat you if you come to our coast!

  5. David Scott Allen July 11, 2024 at 9:36 AM - Reply

    Oh, dear, please delete the comment above! I somehow hit the comment button before I was finished editing (dangled autocorrect!)! The flavors in this dish are incredible, and it’s an absolutely beautiful salad! For some reason, this year we paired peaches and blackberries for the first time and loved it.

    • Chef Mimi July 11, 2024 at 5:45 PM - Reply

      Not a problem! It’s a fabulous pairing, isn’t it?!

  6. Anonymous July 11, 2024 at 9:58 AM - Reply

    Fabulous salad! It looks like a piece of artwork! The cookbook sounds delightful. Barb

    • Chef Mimi July 11, 2024 at 5:44 PM - Reply

      Thanks! I was definitely impressed with it.

  7. angiesrecipes July 11, 2024 at 12:31 PM - Reply

    The salad simply screams SUMMER! The croutons are perfectly done.

    • Chef Mimi July 11, 2024 at 5:44 PM - Reply

      thank you! I knew it would be good, but wow!

  8. Velva July 11, 2024 at 2:30 PM - Reply

    The salad is gorgeous! What a summer beauty. When I read your post I was thinking this was the young woman who sends a postcard to let them know to come to the restaurant??? I have to look her up now!

    Thanks for reminding us about the beauty of summer in this salad.

    • Chef Mimi July 11, 2024 at 5:44 PM - Reply

      Yes!!! That’s her! Our postcards didn’t get picked yet….

  9. Sherry M July 11, 2024 at 4:26 PM - Reply

    I love blackberries! such happy childhood memories of picking them. this salad looks so pretty and sounds delicious. love your salad platter and serving utensils too.

    • Chef Mimi July 11, 2024 at 5:43 PM - Reply

      Thank you! They were a gift from my daughters!

  10. Tandy I Lavender and Lime July 11, 2024 at 10:52 PM - Reply

    This is so pretty! I used my salted lime spread with mince tacos last night and it was divine.

    • Chef Mimi July 12, 2024 at 1:32 PM - Reply

      Oh that sounds wonderful!!!

  11. Bernadette July 12, 2024 at 5:49 AM - Reply

    What a beautiful salad. I love every single ingredient. I would love to go to Erin French’s restaurant.

    • Chef Mimi July 12, 2024 at 1:33 PM - Reply

      Me, too! We’ll keep sending in postcards…

  12. David @ Spicedblog July 12, 2024 at 6:49 AM - Reply

    What an amazing recipe! All of the different flavors and textures would be fantastic. It’s like a summer panzanella!

    • Chef Mimi July 12, 2024 at 1:33 PM - Reply

      It really is! That’s a better name for the salad!

  13. Karen July 13, 2024 at 2:58 PM - Reply

    The salad is beautiful and a perfect way to use summer fruits. I have a friend here in Florida who filled out the postcard and mailed it to the restaurant for the lottery system. I asked what she would do if she was picked and she said she would drive all the way to Maine if she won.

    • Chef Mimi July 14, 2024 at 6:43 AM - Reply

      Ha! I would, too! Hopefully we all get picked!!!

  14. Healthy World Cuisine July 14, 2024 at 4:37 PM - Reply

    We first saw your salad on social media and bookmarked it to try today. But somebody in our family decided to have a late night snack and ate all the blackberries. ayahh!

    • Chef Mimi July 14, 2024 at 4:54 PM - Reply

      Ha!!!! My poor husband is so paranoid about eating anything that he isn’t positive is for him!

  15. thatskinnychickcanbake July 14, 2024 at 7:14 PM - Reply

    Oh, my, I think I could live off this fabulous salad all summer long!!! Brava, my friend!!!

    • Chef Mimi July 15, 2024 at 11:45 AM - Reply

      I completely understand!!!

  16. Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons July 15, 2024 at 11:25 AM - Reply

    I have been adding peaches to many of my salads, which is also a good combination with tomatoes. This one looks delicious, and I love the crunch the croutons add.

    • Chef Mimi July 15, 2024 at 11:46 AM - Reply

      It came out so good. I’m definitely hooked on non-traditional bread salads!

  17. The Frugal Girls July 15, 2024 at 2:08 PM - Reply

    This is the perfect salad for a hot summer day. I love the creative use of the fresh and seasonal items and the homemade vinaigrette is so perfect.

  18. Ben | Havocinthekitchen July 15, 2024 at 5:40 PM - Reply

    Peaches and blackberries are one of my favourite combination, and this is a truly gorgeous and beautiful salad! Loving the addition of bread, too.

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