Assembled in minutes with the freshest of ingredients, this gorgeous salad is summer on a plate.
Every summer, mostly in July, I visit the Hamptons, on Long Island, New York. The beaches are great, and there's always lots happening, but one of my very favorite things about this time of year there is all the wonderful produce. A zillion roadside farm stands sell local corn, tomatoes, summer squash, peaches, melons, fresh herbs, and on and on, and it is all nothing short of sensational.
Last year I was invited to a friend's house for lunch, and while I was on my way, my phone rang: "We have some great burrata from the city — get some things to go with it."
You know burrata. It's that rich, fab Italian cheese made from cream and mozzarella. I stopped at the closest stand to grab some heirloom tomatoes, gorgeous peaches, and fresh basil to go with the cheese. When I got to my friend's house, we chopped up all the just-picked goodies and threw everything into a large mixing bowl. I didn't make a separate vinaigrette — I simply put some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper in with the chopped tomatoes, peaches, and basil, and tossed them all together until everything was fully coated. Then the sliced burrata went on top. Honestly, it could not have been any easier.
Just like that, one-two-three, a classic was born. Sometimes the most delicious things are the most unexpected. The extreme freshness certainly helped the salad, but I was also struck by the unusual balance and harmony of flavors. Who knew peaches and tomatoes would make such a fantastic combination?
If there's a secret to the salad's equilibrium, it lies in the seasoning — both salt and pepper are key ingredients here, as they brighten the flavor of the tomatoes and peaches alike. The success of this dish lies in the tension of the flavors: savory and sweet together. All the bases are loaded, and it's a home run.
There's another fantastic element in this salad: fresh basil chiffonade. Even though that word sounds so fancy, this also couldn't be any easier to do. Pick the leaves from their stems, pile them on top of one another, roll them up, and slice them thinly. See there — you're a fantastic chef who now knows how to do your own chiffonade!
Please keep me posted about your thoughts on my new favorite summer salad.
And as always, happy cooking!
TOMATO AND PEACH SALAD WITH BURRATA
Yield: 4 servings
1 pound heirloom tomatoes, cut into eighths (then, optional)
1 pound ripe peaches, cut into eighths (then halved, optional)
2 tablespoons fresh basil chiffonade
3 tablespoons olive oil
1½ tablespoons balsamicvinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground blackpepper
4 ounces burrata, sliced
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the burrata, and toss them well. Placethe salad onto a serving platter, and top it with slices of the burrata. Serve immediately.
Photography by Victoria Parson