The Caprese salad is classic for a reason: In the summertime, when tomatoes are at their peak, combining them with basil and fresh mozzarella, sprinkling on a little salt, olive oil and maybe some vinegar is a simple path to a refreshing dish.
And yet, you can easily take things up a notch or three, as I did when I made a version from Jessica Elliott Dennison’s “Salad Feasts” (Hardie Grant Books, 2018). It’s smart enough to add in some nectarines for their floral sweetness, but she also subs in burrata for regular mozzarella, for extra creamy indulgence. And instead of basil, she drizzles on an Italian-style salsa verde made with chopped herbs, garlic, capers, anchovies, olive oil and vinegar.
I wanted to pull back on the number of ingredients, so in place of Dennison’s salsa verde, I chose a store-bought Mexican one (my favorite brand is Rick Bayless’s Frontera), based on tomatillos, cilantro and chiles. I blended in some fresh basil leaves to straddle the two cuisines — and loved the punch of spice it brought to the dish.
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This is a simple step up from the classic Caprese salad, with store-bought salsa verde (enlivened with fresh basil) adding a punch of spice.
Adapted from “Salad Feasts: How to Assemble the Perfect Meal,” by Jessica Elliott Dennison (Hardie Grant, 2018).
1½ pounds ripe tomatoes, at room temperature, cored and chopped into big, irregular shapes
2 large ripe nectarines, at room temperature, halved, pitted and torn into large chunks
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
4 slices sourdough bread
½ cup store-bought salsa verde (such as Frontera brand)
¼ cup packed basil leaves
2 medium balls burrata (may substitute fresh mozzarella or best-quality imported feta)
In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes and nectarines with the vinegar, oil, salt and sugar, and gently toss to combine. Let marinate while you toast or griddle the bread on both sides.
In a food processor, combine the salsa verde and basil leaves and blend until incorporated but not super-smooth. (Alternatively, chop the basil and stir it into the salsa verde.)
Spoon the tomato mixture, including all the marinade juices, onto a large serving platter. Tear the burrata into large pieces and add to the platter. Drizzle the salsa verde to finish, and serve with the bread.
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