Some recipes are about technique, and others are really about shopping. I confess Tomato, Necatarine, and Mozzarella Salad is in the latter category, and I feel just fine about that. So should you. It is that time of year –- between the heat and the great stuff at the markets –- to hail the summer salad.
Shop the Story
What I love about many of the recipes on this site, and particularly among the salad offerings, is that they make me think about using certain ingredients together that I might not have otherwise coupled. Case in point is nectarines with mozzarella.
Because this dish is all about the ingredients, I hit the farmer’s market for the best heirlooms I could find, as well as some nice looking basil that would of course fade somewhat over the course of one day (why basil, why do you behave like a four-year-old child after swim class?) and made a dash for some lovely nectarines.
I also acquired a silky chunk of Gustosella Mozzarella Di Bufala Campana from Laurent Bonjour’s Cheese Corner, the French cheese man who tempts me from his little cart at the Monday West Hollywood Farmer’s market. After a discussion about the relative merits of all forms of mozzarella, and a somewhat lengthy tutorial on the proper treatment of soft cheese, and then a brief segue to the baker man who seems to sell his breads for 50 cents more a loaf then the guy in Beverly Hills for reasons I could not ascertain, I made my way back home. The menu was fish and salad, and sweet enough, whose recipes you should look at immediately if you haven’t already, zipped me through my composition, which was basically cutting and layering my market bounty onto a platter.
You know how everyone has a sort-of-hate food? You know, not the thing that you despise (hello chestnuts) but that thing you would just rather not see hanging around your house? This is my husband’s relationship to the nectarine. He basically feels it is a would-be peach doing an imposter’s dance in smooth skin. He has proclaimed them flavorless, though this may be an outgrowth of many years of eating subpar nectarines from a large Manhattan grocery store that shall remain nameless.
But he, too, could not resist the tangy and surprising combination of slippery bufala mozzarella against a sliced nectarine, aided in its deliciousness with the snap of basil. Salt is important here and while the cheese provides quite a bit, do add your own plus black pepper. Reducing the balsamic is a great touch but if you feel too lazy, just tip the bottle carefully over the plate and move on. Summer is forgiving that way.
Extra virgin olive oil (enough to drizzle over the salad)
Salt and pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar reduced to a syrup (I add a bit of honey before I reduce it)
Cut the tomatoes, nectarines, and mozzarella in slices of approximately the same width and layer on a platter with the basil leaves. drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the reduced balsamic around the edge of the platter and over the top.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, is the Los Angeles Bureau Chief for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).