There is something pretty spectacular about summer fruit. Sunshine from a tree, delicious naturally, as the old promotional commercial goes. Peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries. I’ll even throw tomatoes into the mix as they are technically fruit. The smell alone makes me think of long lazy afternoons by the lake, my mother bringing out a plate of sliced peaches or nectarines for us to snack on between leaps from the floating swimming dock.
Because summer fruit has natural sweetness and aromatics, they are the perfect companion for something salty, a splash of acid, some yin/yang balance. Texture is important too, as the ripe fleshiness of the fruit gets a crunchy, chewy backbone in the form of crusty bread torn into pieces and then toasted.
What makes this summer fruit salad from The Kitchn’s Nicole Rufus special is the addition of burrata, a soft, cloud-like, Italian cow’s milk cheese, made from mozzarella and cream. The word “burrata” means “buttery” and refers to the cheese’s rich flavor. If you cannot find burrata, or want to reduce the salad’s caloric content, then use fresh mozzarella which will be a little stretchier and milder in flavor. And basil is a must, (a must!) as it provides that unmistakable summer fragrance.
I recommend you use ripe fruit here as the flavor is just heavenly, but if you like a bit more crunch, then use fruit that is a little less ripe which will also hold up better if you are making the salad ahead of time.
- 8 ounces crusty bread, such as ciabatta or baguette
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 medium lemon
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
- 3 medium peaches, nectarines, or plums (about 1 pound total)
- 2 cups sweet cherries (about 10 ounces)
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes (about 10 ounces)
- 1/2 small bunch fresh basil
- 8 ounces burrata cheese, or substitute fresh mozzarella
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 450ºF. Meanwhile, tear 8 ounces of crusty bread into 1-inch sized pieces. Place the bread on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and toss to coat. Be sure to arrange the bread into a single layer for even toasting.
Bake until the bread is toasted and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mince 1 garlic clove. Place in a small bowl and add the juice from 1/2 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons). Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Whisk until combined.
Prepare the following, adding each to a large bowl as you complete it: Halve and pit 3 medium peaches, nectarines, or plums, then cut into 1/2-inch wedges (about 2 cups). Pit and halve 2 cups fresh cherries. Halve 1 pint cherry tomatoes. Pick the leaves from 1/2 small bunch fresh basil until you have 1/2 cup, then coarsely chop.
Add the bread to the bowl. Whisk the dressing again and drizzle over the salad and toss until evenly coated. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Coarsely chop or tear 8 ounces burrata cheese and dollop on top of the salad. Garnish with more fresh basil leaves and black pepper.
The dressing can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.
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