Weeknight Cooking

Tomato, Nectarine, and Mozzarella Salad

July 12, 2010

Tomato, Nectarine, and Mozzarella Salad

- Jenny

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.

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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.

Tomato, Necatarine, and Mozzarella Salad

By sweet enough

Serves 4

  • 3 to 4 tomatoes
  • 2 to 3 nectarines
  • 1-pound ball fresh mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 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.
Jennifer Steinhauer
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MrsWheelbarrow September 1, 2010
On yet another steamy DC evening, this was the perfect dinner. What a surprising and delicious combination of flavors. Thank you for bringing this recipe to my attention!
Rhonda35 July 15, 2010
Jen, you always have at least one laugh outloud quote and this was today's: "why basil, why do you behave like a four-year-old child after swim class?" Been there, done that and it is such a fantastic analogy!! Also, I too would take the peach, but a ripe nectarine isn't too shabby...

Jestei July 16, 2010
the poor nectarine......no one loves it first!
Lizthechef July 13, 2010
Boy, I missed this yesterday - and today is the first "real" summer day here in San Diego - perfect timing and thank you for a "keeper".
Jestei July 16, 2010
let me know how it works out!
mcs3000 July 13, 2010
This is SO fab - tastes like summer! A season only in memory in foggy SF. Owe you a big box of Frog Hollow fruit for this posting.
Jestei July 16, 2010
Yum I love that stuff!
mrslarkin July 12, 2010
A beautiful hunk o' country bread and I'd call this dinner for a hot summer night. (Some chilled wine wouldn't be bad either.)
Jestei July 16, 2010
Send me a chunk of the bread, please. Stat.
dymnyno July 12, 2010
I love simple salads composed of what is the freshest and nearest. It is the stuff that makes the best memories of summer.
Jestei July 12, 2010
I agree!
monica's S. July 12, 2010
I love Caprese salads and I love nectarines. I think this is the most perfect recipe for me! Great photography too. Can't wait to try this :)

Jestei July 12, 2010
I loved the photo, too!
Cultivating D. July 12, 2010
A tip on avoiding that post-swim class basil wilting: clip the ends of your basil stalks and stick your bunch of basil in a jar of water like a bouquet; tent it with a clear plastic bag so the edges of the bag are touching the counter. This creates something of a mini-greenhouse for your basil, and I've had bunches stay healthy for weeks this way - even start to send out little roots from the stem.
Jestei July 12, 2010
This is a great tip. I do leave them in water but I did not know about steps one and three. Thank you SO much!
Margy@hidethecheese July 12, 2010
I did a similar post on my blog, but with peaches (I'm probably not quite in your husband's anti-nectarine camp, but when a nectarine is sitting side by side with a peach, I'd pretty much always choose the peach). I agree that it is mostly about the shopping, but this time of year, with fabulous peaches and tomatoes, shopping is glorious. The salad is one of my favorite light dinners, and my kids will eat it!
Jestei July 12, 2010
I'd take the peach, too!