My Answer to End-of-Summer Cooking Blahs...Burrata Caprese with Peaches, Tomatoes and Basil
August 22, 2017
I don't know about you, but even I get lazy in the kitchen come August. This salad, from Melissa Clark's wonderful new book, Dinner: Changing the Game, will revitalize you. I promise! It is incredibly tasty, beautiful, and easy to put together. And most important: everyone will love it and be duly impressed. (Your friends and family will be sure to find you fabulously-talented. If that isn't reason enough to make it, I am not sure what is.) They won't know that the work is in finding perfectly-ripe peaches and tomatoes, the creamiest and freshest burrata cheese, and fragrant basil. I will never tell!
Serve this gorgeous salad as Clark suggests as part of a barbecue menu at dinner; or at lunch with crusty bread, prosciutto, or smoked salmon and a green salad. I even find it perfect with eggs for brunch. It is that versatile and that delicious. Try it for yourself. Please!
Before you dive in, here are a few of my suggestions to ensure you get the best results.
Peaches and tomatoes should:
feel soft yet firm and never mushy when ripe.
feel heavy for their size (this means they are juicy.)
can be left on the for a day or two if not fully ripe.
should never be refrigerated.
Peaches especially, should be well-washed to remove the fuzz.
Split peaches along the groove in the side and gently price-out the pit before cutting.
When washing herbs:
Buy your herbs at the Farmer's Market. While often sandier and requiring additional washings, your hard work will be rewarded with a blast of fragrance and pure flavor. Nothing says summer to me like the fresh scent of basil.
To wash and store herbs:
Place herbs in a large bowl of cold water (a few ice cubes help to revive wilted herbs) and gently swirl around to remove dirt. Lift the leaves out of the water into a colander, and discard water. Redo in one to two changes of water depending upon the sandiness of the herbs. Gently spin dry and roll, jelly-roll fashion, into paper towels. Set paper-towel bundle in an open plastic bag to allow air flow and refrigerate. Be especially careful with basil as it bruises easily.
To toast pine nuts:
Preheat a toaster oven to 325^F and place nuts on a tray. Bake for 5-10 minutes, watching carefully, as they seem to go quickly from white to burnt. Remove from the oven when golden brown.
Alternately, toast in a dry skillet over low heat, swirling the skillet to color evenly.
For photo-worthy results:
Use different colors and sizes of tomatoes.
In addition to the basil dressing, put aside some miniature basil sprigs from the tiniest center leaves to sprinkle around your finished salad.
Keep your plate simple so these beautiful ingredients can really shine. White, black, and dark grey are my favorite backgrounds.
If you really are feeling extreme August inertia or just looking for a super-quick fix, balsamic glaze can be substituted for the basil dressing. Use basil leaves and additional sprigs to mix in with the peaches and tomatoes. Then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic glaze, and sprinkle with sea salt to finish.
My favorite way to serve this salad is with baby arugula and chicken paillards. Don't forget the chilled rose or Viognier.
Burrata Caprese with Peaches, Tomatoes, and Basil
adapted from Melissa Clark
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or more as needed
1 whole Burrata cheese (about 6 ounces)
2 large or 4 small ripe peaches, pitted or cut into wedges
1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges (or use cherry tomatoes, halved or left whole)
Flaky sea salt or kosher salt
In a blender: combine the basil, lemon juice, salt, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Puree until a chunky dressing forms (you dont want this to be perfectly smooth.)
Arrange the tomatoes and peaches in a ring around the plate. Place the burrata in the center. Spoon the dressing over the cheese and fruit. Drizzle with additional olive oil if desired. Top with pine nuts and sea salt.