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Add peaches to one of summer’s most recognized and loved salads, and you will witness the marriage of two of Mother Nature’s ripest indulgences. Layers of heirloom tomato, fresh skin-on peach, and slices of milky mozzarella are decked with sweet basil leaves and flakey sea salt, in this beautiful seasonal salad well worth celebrating.
This seasonal salad is a great balance to meals that feature heavier grilled meats like steaks, beef burgers, or bratwurst.
Fresh Peach and Tomato Caprese Salad is a light and refreshing summer salad that I make with yellow peaches, farm market heirloom tomatoes, fresh Buffalo mozzarella, and a mess of my home grown purple basil. It can be served on its own, as a side dish, or as an elegant appetizer. Ready in under 15 minutes, this pretty summer dish adds a delicious pop of color to my kitchen table.
Summertime temperatures in Charleston, South Carolina are brutal…unless there’s some sort of fabulous cash prize involved, I am not turning on my oven.
Initially, I dressed my entire salad with Balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but I felt like the Balsamic weighed down the brightness of the peaches. But some of my family REALLY like the Balsamic. For me, it was too much acid and I was not really “getting” the peach. So, to help the peaches maintain their game I toss only the peaches in an emulsification of fresh lemon juice and a high quality olive oil. Once arranged with the tomatoes, the basil, and the mozzarella, I give the entire platter a scant drizzle of quality olive oil and a sprinkle of Malden sea salt. I serve a high quality heady Balsamic alongside the salad. This way, if somebody feels they need it, it’s there.
If you are not picking your peaches fresh, buy them slightly under ripe a few days ahead of when you plan to use them. This way they can ripen in a paper bag on the kitchen counter until they are perfect for slicing. The same holds true for avocados.
Moisture content is the foremost difference between regular mozzarella and fresh mozzarella. Brick or pre-shredded mozzarella used most typically here in the U.S. on pizza has a very low moisture content. It has its time and place, but in contrast, fresh mozzarella is the traditional choice of cheese for this salad. It is generally found in the gourmet cheese kiosk, comes in a ball, and should always be packed in water.
I ante’d this salad up last summer and served it with only rustic toasted bread and good olive oil and Balsamic drizzle at a party at a friends house. She planned a rosé party and it was my task to come up with an economical “whole bunch of easy” for her partygoers to nosh. I hit our farmers market that morning and grabbed as much arugula as I could find. Spotting pea shoots made me go bonkers. I knew they’d really set the entire look of the salad not to mention sweeten it.
After paying a guy and his brother ten bucks a piece to haul boxes of peaches and heirloom tomatoes of many colors to my car, I zoomed up to my favorite cheese store in Charleston and prayed they’d have fresh mozzarella or burrata. In luck, I cleaned their coffers of everything mozzarella. I grabbed olive oil, a 20 pound bucket of olives, shaved Prosciutto, and the remaining 23 Pane Casereccios they had. I had enough for 75 people to eat very well.
No forks necessary. I sliced the bread 1/2 inch on the bias, then each slice in half. I toasted the halves and topped with the very lightly dressed greens. Each individual toast half received a base of finely chopped peaches, a slice of fresh mozzarella, and a bite of heirloom tomato. After a thoughtful drizzle of olive oil and Balsamic, these small-ish two bite handhelds were ready. Trays of almonds, olives and Prosciutto along with good hard blocks of Parmesan flanked the six champagne and rosé stations. Bread fills imbibing bellies; Fresh Peach and Tomato Caprese Salad makes the bread very uniquely spectacular…
Simplicity has never looked so beautiful as a stunning combination of skin-on peaches and heirloom tomatoes, a sweet-savory salad that pairs well with almost everything.
At home, I often make the salad as I show it here, no arugula or pea shoots, and meatless. I do serve it with crusty toasted bread for sopping up all of the juices and olive oil. I mean, this salad eats more like a meal. And as light as it is for hot summer nights, it is pleasingly belly-filling. Feeding a crowd? Serve as a side dish to Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks or marinated grilled tenderloin steaks.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Fresh Peach and Tomato Caprese Salad
- 2 to 3 heirloom tomatoes
- pinch of Kosher salt
- 2 to 3 very ripe peaches, washed well, but skins left on yellow peaches work best, but white peaches are tasty also
- 7 ounces fresh mozzarella or Burrata
- handful purple or sweet basil leaves
- juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
- 2 tablespoons quality olive oil + extra for drizzling
- healthy pinch Malden sea salt
- fresh and finely ground black pepper for serving
- quality Balsamic vinegar for serving
- Have a platter at the ready and set aside.
- Slice the tomatoes 1/2 inch thick, then the slices into halves. Set on a wire rack positioned over top a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt on both sides. Allow the tomatoes to weep for about 15 minutes. This step is important as it really intensifies the flavor of the tomatoes. After 15 minutes, tip the slices to allow the liquid to drip off but DO NOT blot.
- Juice the lemon and combine with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a mini chef prep or glass jar with a tightly fitting lid. Process until olive oil is sufficiently emulsified and the lemon juice is suspended.
- Slice the peaches in half and remove the stone. Then slice each half into 1/2 inch slices and toss gently with the lemon and olive oil emulsification.
- Tuck the tomatoes, the peach slices, and the mozzarella or Burrata in pillowy rows on the platter. Deck the rows with the basil leaves wherever they fit and will look pretty.
- Add a healthy drizzle of olive oil over the entire platter, followed by a good pinch of flakey sea salt such as Malden salt. If desired, crack fine pepper over top.
- Offer crusty hunks of good bread for mopping up the juices, and serve with a quality Balsamic vinegar for passing at the table.
- Raw tomatoes pair with blonde sour ales very nicely. Alternatively, most farmhouse-style beer compliments the acidity of tomatoes also. Tabularasa from Toccalmatto beers from Italy are fairly easy to find at specialty brewpubs and shops in the U.S. Grab them when you see them. If you prefer to go 'wine,' and for as much as I love rosés, I would still recommend the Légende Bordeaux Blanc with this salad.
The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.
Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.