August 5, 2009

Heirloom Tomato and Peach Caprese Salad with Balsamic-Shallot Vinaigrette

Well, it was bound to happen. In the midst of a summer with above-average rainfall and below-average temperatures, it's finally gotten hot as hell here in nyc. I can't bear to do anything that will raise the temperature of my apartment by even a fraction of a degree, which rules out turning on the oven and lighting a stove burner. So my dinners are mostly going to be salads for the foreseeable future.

A fungus referred to as "late blight" has decimated tomato crops throughout the Northeast this summer. So I was surprised to visit the greenmarket today and find a decent selection of heirloom tomatoes (to read more about the blight, see here and here). Immediately an image of one of my favorite salads popped into my head: the classic Caprese -- fat slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella interspersed with fragrant basil leaves and finished with drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Then I spotted beautiful peaches and thought: why not include them too? With a huge bunch of fresh basil (some for the salad, the rest for pesto) and a couple of fat shallots in my arms, my dinner shopping was just about done. Unfortunately, the one cheese stand at the market did not have fresh mozzarella, so I had to buy that from the grocery store. But otherwise this dish is completely farmers' market-sourced (okay, not counting oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper).

Another benefit of buying fresh herbs during the workday - my office was filled with the heavenly perfume of fresh basil all afternoon. Which, I can now report, is quite an effective treatment for computer fog.

Heirloom Tomato and Peach Caprese Salad with Balsamic-Shallot Vinaigrette
(Amounts here are for a salad that serves 1 as a main course or 2 as a side dish)

2 heirloom tomatoes (about 1/2 to 3/4 pound), cut into 1/2-inch thick slices 
1 large ripe peach, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
6-8 fresh basil leaves
1-2 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 tsp minced shallot
2 tsp balsamic vinegar (I used a superrich, syrupy 9-year-aged balsamic from Oliviers & Co.)
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp XVOO
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
  • Arrange tomato, peach, and mozzarella slices on a plate or platter, inserting a basil leaf every few slices. (This can be done up to a few hours before serving; keep in the fridge and let sit at room temp for about 30 minutes before serving).
  • Whisk together shallot, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle vinaigrette over salad just before serving.


  1. I love the idea of adding peaches to the Caprese Salad! This is one of my favorite summer dishes, and it'll be fun to change it up a bit!

  2. Could you cook down the balsamic to thicken it

  3. hey anon - that's a great idea! i used a syrupy balsamic so didn't need to thicken it, but if using a thinner variety reducing it would add richness to the vinaigrette. thanks :)