the inspiration for this salad came from a recent trip out to california. my husband and i flew out to sonoma for my cousin’s wedding and while we were there, took a few extra days to tour around. we had lunch one day at a delicious restaurant called zazu kitchen + farm. as an appetizer, i ordered fresh figs with burrata, served over arugula, alongside grilled crusty bread.
i thoroughly enjoyed zazu’s version. also? i thought there was a good chance i would enjoy it more with grilled peaches. because, let’s face it, figs are a tiny bit weird. not a lot, just a tiny bit. so. many. little. seedy. things.
so, peaches + grilling, because it’s summer, which means the grill isn’t buried under 6 feet of snow. which some would argue calls for a celebration. and nothing says celebration like burrata.
burrata, in case you aren’t familiar with it, is sort of like the best extra creamy ricotta you’ve ever had, packed into the best hollow shell of fresh mozzarella you’ve ever had. if you want a more accurate description, google can help you out but that gives you an idea of the deliciousness that awaits you. it can be a little tricky to find, however, so if you’re stuck, fresh mozzarella (the kind in water, not the kind in shrink wrap) will work too. but if you can hunt down burrata at a schmancy grocery store or italian market, do it. and be sure to handle it gently; the outer portion is soft, relatively thin, and jam-packed with creamy, ricotta-like goodness. i found a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to be most effective for slicing it without completely mangling it.
so, burrata, grilled peaches, and then just enough arugula to
pretend it’s a “salad” provide a bit of flavor contrast. plus basil, because it’s summer and nearly everything in the summer is better with basil. this salad is best served as soon as you make it, on a shaded porch with a gentle breeze.
- 10 oz. burrata cheese (substitute fresh mozzarella if you can’t find burrata), sliced into 1/2″ thick slices (use a serrated knife and handle the cheese gently)
- 4 ripe but firm peaches
- 3 oz. (~2 cups) arugula
- 1/4 cup basil, cut into thin ribbons
- 6 oz. (3/4 cup) balsamic vinegar
- juice of half a lemon
- zest of half a lemon
- ~1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ~1 – 2 teaspoons oil with a high smoke point and neutral flavor, such as extra light olive oil
- in an 8″ skillet, simmer the balsamic vinegar over medium heat for 15 – 20 minutes until it is beginning to get syrupy and it is reduced to about 2 oz. (1/4 cup). remove it from the heat after no more than 20 minutes; it will continue to thicken and become more syrupy as it cools and if it is heated for too long, it will turn bitter.
- combine the lemon zest and lemon juice in a small jar with a lid. look at the quantity of lemon juice you have then add roughly twice as much extra virgin olive oil to the jar. from half a lemon, i usually get about 1/2 tablespoon of juice and then add about 1 tablespoon of oil. shake it up and taste; you may wish to add a bit more oil if the lemon flavor is too strong. set dressing aside.
- preheat the grill to medium heat. cut each peach into 4 large chunks. remove the pit but leave the skin on. put the peaches in a large bowl and toss with the 1 – 2 teaspoons of high smoke point oil. if you have a grill basket like this one, it makes it easy to keep the peaches from falling through the grill grates. if you don’t, make sure to cut large pieces and wield your grill tongs carefully! whether you’re using a grill basket or not, put the peaches on the grill for 3 – 4 minutes per side. you want a few grill marks, but nothing too charbroiled. once the peaches are done, set them aside on a plate to cool for a few minutes so they don’t wilt/melt the rest of the ingredients.
- in a medium bowl, toss the arugula with the lemon/oil dressing. divide the arugula among 4 plates. divide the burrata and peaches among 4 plates. drizzle balsamic vinegar reduction over the top and sprinkle with basil. serve immediately.
make ahead if you wanted to get a head start on this recipe, you could reduce the balsamic, make the dressing, and grill the peaches in advance. i would not cut the burrata or basil, dress the arugula, or assemble the salad until you are ready to eat.