I'm not much of a summer person. In fact, if I'm being honest, it's probably my least favorite season weather-wise. If you think that makes me some kind of monster, hear me out: you can always put on more clothes and more blankets, but there comes a point where there's nothing left to take off and you're still melting in sweat. As a food lover, though, this season boasts some of the year's best fruits and vegetables. Last night, we had the most glorious Tomato Peach Salad that wiped away all of my summer woes. It was cold and refreshing, sweet and tangy, with just the right balance of creaminess from fresh mozzarella. It was as magical a gift of the season as fireflies.
And that's not even the best part! Firstly, this colorful bounty on a plate required exactly zero heat to prepare. Hallelujah! It's been consistently in the mid-90s with humidity in the bazillions and a heat index akin to hell. The thought of even turning on a burner yesterday turned my stomach. Secondly, and perhaps even more satisfyingly, I grew the basil and tomatoes myself.
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Growing your own food makes it taste better. But be prepared to have to work for it!
Have y'all experienced the utter glory that is picking your own produce straight from your backyard? If you haven't, I highly suggest you try it. The tomato seedlings I bought back in March for less than $4 apiece have been incredibly productive, and despite having trouble with a fruit thief that stole no fewer than 15 of my precious tomatoes, we still have a pretty good haul. (If you've ever done any Farmer's Market shopping, you know 15 Cherokee Purples would cost more than $12, so we're still doing alright on our investment.)
It took us awhile to figure out a squirrel was to blame and finally came up with a solution that has prevented any more shrinkage of our inventory, but boy was I mad! And he targeted my Cherokee Purples, which are my FAVORITE tomato. It took everything in this country girl not to go straight for my shotgun when I saw him leisurely double fisting my bounty that I've waited months for. Don't worry, I'd have eaten roasted squirrel for dinner that night. I'm not a heedless murderer. I was taught to use what I kill. And the skin? The dogs would've had their favorite woobie yet.
Alas, my sweet husband Joe talked me off the fence and brought home some plastic netting that tiny little squirrel paws couldn't fit through. And so far, we haven't lost anymore of my most cherished crop. But that's part of the satisfaction of gardening at home. You have to figure out how to outfox Nature! I've learned all kinds of things about neem oil and diatomaceous earth and cinnamon and vinegar and now, netting. It seems that just about everything here in Tennessee will grow, it's just a matter of figuring out how to keep it alive long enough to harvest.
Georgia Peaches really are the best.
Here in Nashville, we have a few farmers who have peaches available, but the best ones by far are from a farm called The Peach Truck in Georgia. They are headily perfumed, sweet, juicy and huge. They are everything you could want in a peach. If James were to set sail tomorrow, it'd be in a Peach Truck peach. They're that perfect. I should note that I have zero affiliation with the Peach Truck. I just love them so much that I feel obligated to tell you about their glory. This peach salad really seals the deal.
Anyway, the season is short, and we're in the home stretch. I believe they stop sales here August 1st, so if any of y'all live in the area and haven't yet bought your Peach Truck peaches, GET ON IT. There's a list of their pickup locations here. They also ship to anywhere in the contiguous United States, so if you're wanting a taste of the South wherever you are, order online here next year. All of their fresh peaches for shipping are sadly sold out for the 2020 season.
Well, my sweet friend Andrew brought me a most welcome and thoughtful gift in the form of two Peach Truck peaches last week. They weren't *quite* ripe when he brought them over, which was ideal for me. Peaches, like avocados, go from unripe to unusable in a blink! Fast forward three days and they were ripe and ready to roll. Coincidentally, some of the tomatoes the squirrel thief knocked off the branch while they were still green achieved ripeness at the same time. Time for a Tomato Peach Salad, amirite?
The salad inspiration.
While scrolling through Instagram the day before, I saw a recipe for a Tomato & Peach Salad from NYT Cooking that totally caught my eye. It was so beautiful! And why had I never thought to put peaches and tomatoes together? While I didn't end up following the recipe they gave, which included whipped goat cheese and a sherry vinegar and mustard dressing, the seed of inspiration was planted.
Fast forward to last night, around 8pm. Joe has been working crazy long hours and last night was no exception. So when he texted me that he was on his way home, it was time to get the salads working. I snapped a few quick pictures of the ingredients, then assembled the salads in almost no time. A few slices of tomato, a few slices of peach, a couple tears of mozzarella, and a quick toss of greens in my favorite store salad dressing and BOOM. Dinner was ready.
The dish took all of 5 minutes to assemble and was a feast of colors on the plate. Bright rosy oranges from the peaches, deep fire engine reds and dark purples from the tomatoes, earthy greens in the form of arugula and basil, all punctuated by stark white mozzarella. If you eat with your eyes first, it was a gee dang feast. And when it came to eating, it was everything my eyes had led me to believe it would be.
Sweet tannic nectar of the fuzzy peaches played against the herbaceous, fresh basil. Peppery arugula played an excellent foil against the juicy tomatoes. Creamy, lightly flavored mozzarella melded nicely with both of the bold, acidic fruits and the pungent greens. It was summer on a plate, and it was glorious. Go on and make this Tomato & Peach Salad. It'll be the best 5 minutes spent "working" all week. Promise.
Peach and Tomato Salad
- 1.5 lb Heirloom Tomatoes
- 1.5 lb Fresh Peaches about 2 large
- 1 C Arugula
- ¼ C Basil Leaves lightly packed
- 4 oz Fresh Mozzarella or better yet, burratta!
- 2 tablespoon Apple Thyme Vinaigrette (Aldi) or favorite light vinegar based salad dressing
- Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
- Wash and slice tomatoes and peaches into ~¾in slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Dress arugula with salad dressing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Arrange ¾ of fruit in serving dish. Divide arugula between dishes. Tear mozzarella into bite sized bits and divide between dishes. Finish with fresh basil leaves and a last sprinkle of salt and pepper.