Fruit brings flair to a humdrum veggie salad.
Three things make me think of summer: sandals, swimsuits and salads. If you love nothing more than a big bowl o’ greens and raw veggies, great! But if you’re already bored with your go-to salad, it’s easy to juice things up a bit by adding some of your favorite summertime fruits to the bowl.
Lately my salads have a mix of in-season fruit and veggies and a sprinkling of nuts and cheese. They usually contain just a handful of ingredients or less. This balsamic peach, tomato and mozzarella salad is one of my all-time favorites. Juicy peaches and ripe tomatoes are drizzled with a simple balsamic glaze and topped with fresh mozzarella, fresh mint and pistachios.
If you’ve never had balsamic reduction, be warned: It’s highly addictive, and you’ll want to put it on pretty much everything in sight. I keep a bottle of it in the refrigerator and add it to salads as well as to grilled or roasted veggies and grilled chicken breast.
Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups baby spring mix
2 large tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 ripe peaches, cut into bite-sized chunks
4 ounces burrata or fresh mozzarella cheese (packaged in water)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
For the balsamic reduction, pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula, until vinegar is reduced by half, about 10–15 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer into a small pitcher or glass bottle, and set aside.
Meanwhile, layer greens on a large platter or in a shallow bowl. Add tomatoes and peaches and top with torn pieces of burrata or fresh mozzarella and mint. Drizzle with balsamic reduction, add a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper if desired, and serve immediately.
Tip: Triple the balsamic vinegar, and store the remaining reduction sauce in the fridge for future salads. With the balsamic reduction made ahead of time, you can whip up this salad in just five minutes.
Once you’ve tried the peach and tomato pairing, try these other delicious summertime fruit salads—all of which pair splendidly with the basic balsamic reduction recipe above.
Watermelon + Cucumber + Mint + Feta
Figs + Spinach + Goat Cheese + Pistachios
Strawberries + Spinach + Ricotta + Pecans
Cantaloupe + Heirloom Tomato + Mint
Plums + Arugula + Prosciutto + Walnuts
And because even simple salads take time to prepare, here are a few practical tips that’ll have you assembling your favorite summertime salads in just a few minutes:
Wash your greens in advance. Once clean, trim the ends, wrap in a damp paper towel and store them in the fridge in an unsealed plastic bag to keep crisp. Dampen the paper towel as it dries out.
Prep salad toppings that keep well in the refrigerator. Slice up some fridge-friendly fruits like watermelon, plums, figs, peaches, nectarines, mango, orange and pineapple. Chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, carrots, green beans and cucumbers keep well on the veggie side of things.
Make a big batch of homemade dressing. Homemade dressings and reductions are healthier than most store-bought varieties, are far less expensive, and usually only contain a few ingredients you likely already have on hand. Make a big batch of your favorite dressing, and store leftovers in a glass jar in the fridge. Remember, oil-based dressings need to warm up a bit. Simply set dressing on the counter for 30 minutes, or pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to allow the oil to liquefy. Shake well and enjoy!
Photo credit: Elle Penner