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 Grilled chicken  and peach  salad with black olive and basil vinaigrette.
Grilled chicken and peach salad with black olive and basil vinaigrette.Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Vegetables cooked on the grill are commonplace, but grilling fruit may seem unusual, especially if it’s not for dessert. Certain grilled fruits, though, bring new dimension to savory dishes, particularly summer salads. Peaches are terrific with a brief stay over a medium flame — neither time nor heat enough to cook through; the treatment brings out honeyed flavor tones and integrates the fruit with other grilled ingredients. In three salads hearty enough for a main course, grilled peaches and grilled chicken go hand in hand, paired with greens and complementary vinaigrettes.

Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad With Black Olive and Basil Vinaigrette

Serves 4

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Remember that medium heat is best, and as an extra hedge against peaches overcooking and turning mushy, choose fruit that’s a day or two away from being perfectly ripe. Inspired by a recipe in Let the Flames Begin by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby (W.W. Norton).

Salt and ground black pepper

3 tablespoons sugar

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, 6 to 8 ounces each, trimmed

1½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons minced or grated garlic (about 2 large cloves)

¼ cup finely chopped pitted Kalamata olives

½ cup finely chopped fresh basil

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Tip: Skin slips from grilled peach halves effortlessly. Just use your fingers to push it off the flesh.
Tip: Skin slips from grilled peach halves effortlessly. Just use your fingers to push it off the flesh.Mark Schou

Neutral oil, for the grill

2 large red or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into wide planks

4 ripe but firm medium peaches, halved and pitted

6 cups (loosely packed) mixed torn salad greens or mesclun, preferably a combination of sharp- and mild-flavored, washed and dried (about 3 ounces)

2 cups mixed torn Italian parsley leaves and scallion greens sliced into ¾-inch lengths

In a large bowl, mix ‚ cup salt, sugar, and 6 cups water, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Submerge the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Rinse the chicken and dry well. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, olives, basil, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste. Vigorously whisk in 6 tablespoons olive oil (you should have about ¾ cup dressing). Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if necessary. Set aside.

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Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high for 15 minutes. (If using gas, adjust burners to medium-hot and grill with the lid closed.)

In a medium bowl, toss the bell pepper planks with 1½ tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Brush the chicken breasts on both sides with 1½ tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle generously with black pepper. Clean and oil the grill grate with the neutral oil and grill the bell pepper planks, turning as necessary, and the chicken, undisturbed, until peppers are grill-marked and tender and chicken is grill-marked and cooked through (155 to 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), 8 to 10 minutes, turning the chicken once (do not overcook). Remove the peppers and chicken from the grill and set aside to rest.

(If using gas, adjust burners to medium and grill with the lid closed.) Brush the peach halves on both sides with the remaining olive oil and grill, cut side down, until grill-marked, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and grill the second side for about 2 minutes; remove the peaches from the grill. When cool, remove the skin if desired. Cut the peppers, chicken, and peaches into slices. Whisk the dressing in the large bowl to re-blend, pour half of it into another container, and set aside. Add the salad greens, peppers, and parsley and scallion greens mixture to the bowl, toss to coat, and arrange in a bed on a large serving platter. Arrange the chicken and peaches on the greens, drizzle with the remaining dressing, and serve at once.

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Herbed Salad With Grilled Chicken, Grilled Peaches, and Feta

Serves 4

The vinaigrette for this salad benefits from the flavor of a mild red chili. Adapted from the August 2012 issue of the British magazine Good Food.

Follow the directions for Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad With Black Olive and Basil Vinaigrette, making the following changes:

1) In the vinaigrette, omit lemon juice and substitute 1 tablespoon honey; omit olives and basil and substitute 2 tablespoons (or more, to taste) minced seeded fresh mild red chili, such as Fresno, Holland, or cherry pepper.

2) Omit the bell peppers and the 1½ tablespoons olive oil with which they are tossed.

3) For the salad, omit the parsley and scallion greens mixture and substitute 2 cups roughly torn fresh herbs, including parsley, mint, celery leaves, and chives or scallion greens.

4) Just before serving, scatter 2/3 cup crumbled feta over the salad.

Watercress and Grilled Fennel Salad With Grilled Chicken, Grilled Peaches, and Orange Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Follow the directions for Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad With Black Olive and Basil Vinaigrette, making the following changes:

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1) In the vinaigrette, omit balsamic vinegar and substitute sherry vinegar. Omit lemon juice and substitute 1½ tablespoons juice and 1½ teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 orange. Omit the garlic. Omit olives and basil and substitute ¼ cup minced shallot.

2) Omit the bell peppers.

3) Trim a very thin slice from the bases of 2 medium fennel bulbs and remove tough or blemished outer layers. Slice the bulbs vertically through the core into ½-inch-thick, fan-like pieces. In a medium bowl, toss the fennel with 1½ tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Grill the fennel along with the chicken until grill-marked and tender, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once. When cool, cut out and discard cores to separate the attached fennel pieces; set aside.

4) For the salad, omit the parsley and scallion greens mixture and substitute 2 cups (lightly packed) watercress leaves and small stems.

5) Add the grilled fennel to the salad greens along with the watercress.

ADAM REID


Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to cooking@globe.com.