Eating peaches always feels like a luxury—they’re not cheap, and the season goes by so fast that you simply have to focus on enjoying each bite and find recipes that are worth using them in. Peaches seem to signify an almost indecent decadence, with their rosy, fuzzy complexion and the ease with which you can pull the pit right out of the fruit without any fuss (unlike plums—no offense, plums). They’re high-end stone fruit; you get what you pay for.
My mom and I once went to a small book event by Nicole Rucker, a fantastic baker, and she gave each attendee a free box of just-picked peaches her family had harvested earlier that day (they had gotten boxes and boxes for her bakery down in LA). My mom and I were giddy as we left with a box of peaches apiece, feeling like we’d just scored big on The Price is Right. (I believe I made a galette and a crumble with those cherished peaches.) My brother- and sister-in-law have a couple of peach trees on their property, and sometimes we reap the rewards of their garden. But even though we occasionally get them for free, peaches still feel special, as though I need to be extra respectful in how I use them. This salad is one of the best ways to honor them, because it allows the peaches to shine and recruits only the best sidekicks to help them live up to their potential.
We have several greens salads each week, but there’s a special place in my heart for fruit-forward salads. The key is to let the fruit be the hero, and to keep the other elements to a minimum. Good fruit, like in-season peaches, doesn’t need much to shine (you can enjoy them out of hand with nothing else, can’t you?). Maybe some cheese, herbs, a crunchy element (think nuts), salt, pepper, a simple dressing or a bit of olive oil, but that’s it.
This is one of those recipes that is more of a loose guide for you to follow or simply use as a jumping-off point—swap nectarines or plums for the peaches if you’d like, or go rogue and use tomatoes instead. Drape some paper-thin prosciutto across the fruit before layering on the burrata, or tuck in silky slices of avocado. Or layer everything over a bed of lettuce and squeeze a little lemon juice over the whole thing. The point is, this is a forgiving, versatile dish that is as good on its own or jazzed up to your liking. Whatever you do, get the best, loveliest fruit you can find and let it wow you.
Peaches with Burrata & Basil
4-5 ripe, in-season peaches*
a small handful of basil leaves
your best olive oil
flaky sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
*If you make this with out-of-season peaches, it will be bland and you will not be pleased. If you can, try the peaches before you buy them just to make sure they’re as full-flavored as possible.
Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Slice each half into 1/4-inch thick half-moons and scatter across a large plate or tray. Tear a ball of burrata into pieces and drop chunks evenly across the peaches. Sprinkle with a couple pinches of fine sea salt.
Thinly slice a few of the large basil leaves and scatter them across the peaches, then toss the rest of the basil leaves on top. Sprinkle everything with a good dose of your best olive oil (a good-quality olive oil will really boost this dish), a few big pinches of flaky sea salt, and a little bit of freshly cracked black pepper. Serve at room temperature within an hour or two, ideally.