As summer slowly wanes toward fall, take advantage of the last gasp of ripe fruit at the farmers’ markets. Tables should still bear the bounty of sweet yellow and white tree-ripened peaches, and juicy, flavor-packed heirloom tomatoes. This twist on a caprese salad incorporates both. If you’ve got a local cheesemaker who pulls mozz daily, secure a warm ball of that, too. Always use high-quality olive oil and vinegar to dress the salad. And for the herb, this recipe calls for lemon basil instead of the classic Italian variety because it adds an incredible pop of citrus vibrancy to each bite. This taste of peak season fruit lets you hold on to those dog days just a little bit longer.
To Pair: Grillo from Sicily
This floral and fruity white from Italy’s largest island produces fresh, aromatic, medium-bodied wines. A touch of salinity on the finish provides an unexpected dash of seasoning when paired with food. Crisp acidity plays off the brightness of the tomato, while tropical and stone fruit notes accentuate the peach in the dish.
Wines to Find: For great value, look to Stemmari Grillo, Sicilia DOC, 2016, $9.99; At the top end of quality, find Donnafugata SurSur Grillo, Sicilia DOC, 2016, $20.
Total time: 10 minutes
4 peaches, sliced into wedges (peeled or unpeeled)
4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced thick (vine-ripened okay, too. Ripe is the key.)
8-10 oz. fresh mozzarella, roughly sliced
1 bunch of fresh lemon basil, rough chopped*
High-quality extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling*
Good balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1. On a platter or large serving plate, layer the tomato, peach, and mozzarella slices. Drizzle with extra virgin olive and balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Sprinkle chopped lemon basil over the dish. Serve with a glass of Grillo, chilled to around 50-55 degrees. *
*If lemon basil is not available, look for lemon verbena and Italian basil, and add both.
*To take this dish up a flavor notch, look for lemon flavored oils and seasoned salts. The Sicilian brand Ravida makes both.http://www.ravidaoil.com/prodotto/lemon-oil-025cl?lang=en
*If wine is room-temperature/warm, chilling will take approximately 3 hours in the fridge and one hour in the freezer, so plan ahead. Alternatively, prepare an ice bath which chills whites in about 20 minutes.