Tomato, Stone Fruit and Fresh Mozzarella Salad
I love Honeycrisp apples. Created at the University of Minnesota in 1960 and released to the world in 1991, I find it to be the most spectacular apple in the world. It's a unique blend of sweet and tart...and it has a firmness that gives it a very long shelf life.
The very best honeycrisp apples I have eaten are locally grown. They start to show up on grocery shelves in September. Come November, the honeycrisps you buy come from southern climes. Now, at the height of summer, the honeycrisps in the store are usually from Argentina or Chile. They are not very good, so at this time of year I switch to nectarines.
The nectarines of July are magnificent. They are unbelievably sweet and juicy...so much more than peaches. They are so juicy, in fact, that I eat them by slicing off slivers of the fruit with a sharp knife. Eat them by hand and you'll end up with a face and shirt drenched with nectarine syrup.
To me, nectarines were always a standalone food item...to be eaten and enjoyed all by itself. This belief was altered by Stephanie Izard two weeks ago. That's when I discovered this recipe she created. She calls it "Summer in a Bowl". In the words of those brilliant songwriters Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, I call it "f*cking awesome".
Stephanie has created a sort of Frankensalad, taking body parts from both the panzanella and caprese salads and sewing them together. Make sure the nectarines and plums are ripe and full of juice. Make sure your mozzarella is fresh...it should be very tender to the touch. Her recipe will take you about 15 minutes to make and serves four to six people.
1 cup roasted and salted pistachios, roughly chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2¼ cups roughly torn bread
1¼ pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 ripe nectarine, cut into wedges
2 ripe plums, cut into wedges
10 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
8 basil leaves, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together pistachios, lemon juice, honey and 4 tablespoons oil until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Make croutons: Toss bread with remaining oil and season with salt. Spread croutons in a single layer on a baking tray and bake until golden, 12-15 minutes.
- In a bowl, toss tomatoes with stone fruit and season with salt. Divide mozzarella slices among plates and season with salt and pepper. Top with fruit mixture, drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with basil and croutons. Serve immediately.
Wine pairing: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc