My avocado vendor decided to drop off some gorgeous doughnut peaches. I’ve always seen these on Pinterest and Instagram and been enamoured by them. Biting into these, they’re juicy, succulent and sweet as nectar!
I wanted to do my take on a classic caprese salad which is a combination of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. I was in Italy last year, hiking around the Cinque Terre. A hamlet of 5 tiny and whimsical fishing villages on the coast of Italy, set in mountains that end right at the ocean. It is close to Genoa, a town where pesto was invented. These villages are terraced and they grow grapes, olives and lemons. Cinque Terre is known for its hikes, wines and picturesque villages. While I was out exploring, I chanced upon this restaurant called Nessun Dorma in Manarola, Le Cinque Terre. They’ve named it after an Aria of a traditional Italian Opera that was made famous by Luciano Pavarotti. The restaurant is perched upon one of the terraces, with the most breathtaking views of the colourful houses of Manarola. There is always a long line for a table. They also do pesto classes which you can book online. It was such a fun experience! We made pesto in a traditional mortar and pestle and had some sourdough bread and a Caprese salad with it. We gawked at the view while sipping on some Cinque Terre wine.
Inspired, I decided to do my spin on this. I grilled some of the doughnut peaches, oven roasted some heirloom tomatoes and used burrata instead of mozzarella for a more creamy mouthfeel. This paired with some Pesto Genovese and balsamic is the perfect Italian feast! A fresh, salad that celebrates the produce!
For the Salad
Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes – 2-3 cups
Doughnut peaches – 3 , halved and destoned
Burrata – 2 balls
Basil leaves – a bunch
Garlic – 4-5 cloves
Salt – a pinch
Pepper – a pinch
Olive oil – a drizzle
Thyme – a few sprigs
For the Pesto Genovese
Basil – 2 cups
Pine nuts – 1.5 tablespoons
Parmesan cheese – 1/2 cup
Extra Virgin Olive oil – 1/4 cup
Salt – a pinch
Pepper – a pinch
Garlic – 2-3 cloves
Balsamic glaze – a generous drizzle
Sea salt – freshly crushed
Pepper- freshly crushed
Olive oil – a generous drizzle
Preheat the oven to 400 F /204 C
Add some olive oil in a roasting tin, add in half the tomatoes, garlic cloves, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Roast them at 400 F(204 C) for 20-30 mins depending on the size and type of tomatoes. For the other half of the tomatoes, cut them and keep aside. if they are cherry tomatoes or smaller tomatoes on the vine you can leave them whole as well, either raw or roasted.
In a grill pan add some olive oil and place the halved peaches, flat side down. Let it sit still for a few mins till the gorgeous grill lines develop on them.
For the pesto, in a mortar pestle add the garlic and pound till it becomes a paste, let it line the inside of the mortar. Add in some basil leaves and pine nuts and keep pounding, add in some olive oil. As you keep pounding, it will start to come together as a paste. Add in the cheese and go on. After a while the entire mixture will come together as one sauce. Season and keep aside. You could also do this in a blender, if doing so add a cube of ice to help retain the colour.
To put it all together, in a plate or on a slate, place the halved grilled peaches, put the burrata balls with them. Add in the hot roasted tomatoes. Also put the rest of the raw tomatoes on. Dress the salad with some of the pesto and olive oil. Finish off with some balsamic glaze and freshly crushed salt and pepper. Put on some Pavarotti and sip on your favourite white wine!