I waited and waited for perfect tomatoes and juicy, ripe nectarines to arrive and for my own basil to grow. All those things came to be last weekend, and I was able to put together this lovely, summer salad. Once again, this is from the book My Favorite Ingredients. I wasn’t kidding when I said I marked several pages. As you see in the title, this salad is intended to include prosciutto, and Kurt’s portion did indeed have some in it. I don’t eat red meat, so I left it off my plate, but Kurt commented that having a little prosciutto is never a bad thing. For the cheese, I was torn between a very nice buffalo mozzarella and burrata. In the end, I used a little of both in the salads. The tomatoes, nectarines, and cheeses were drizzled with basil oil with garlic, and then everything was dotted with aged balsamic. Just the other day, I brought home an eighteen year aged balsamic from Con’Olio which is a locally-owned olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop with incredible varieties of both, and this was a perfect use for it. This is exactly the kind of dish in which quantities and exact ingredients don’t matter so much, but the quality of each item on the plate is everything.
I’ve made basil oil before, but this version was a little different. The basil wasn’t blanched this time, and the raw leaves were pureed with chopped garlic. Once they were minced, olive oil was added. For the salad, I used nectarines and an heirloom tomato which were simply cut into wedges, and I added yellow cherry tomatoes which were cut in half. The nectarines and tomatoes were tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. The mozzarella and burrata were cut into big pieces and plated, the nectarine and tomatoes were spooned on and around the cheeses, the basil oil was spilled on top of it all, and the aged balsamic was dribbled here and there. I added a few basil leaves, and Kurt’s salad was adorned with prosciutto.
It is really just a caprese salad with added hits of sweet and salty from fruit and cured meat. But, when the ingredients are as good as they can be, it’s a salad that’s perfection. I couldn’t decide which cheese I preferred. Both were excellent with the mix of things on the plate. I did decide that this could be my dinner day in and day out for the rest of the summer.