Looking for a salad that screams summer, look no further than this fresh peach Caprese salad. Bursting with bright fresh flavors the peach adds sweetness to a traditional Caprese salad. It elevates the taste of tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese to beautiful fruity heights.
History of Caprese Salad
This harvest salad is composed of just a few ingredients, so the individual flavors shine. The salad is said to have come from a chef in Italy who wanted to show his pride in his homeland following World War 1. He created a salad that represented the colors of the Italian flag and the flavors of Italy. Called Insalata Caprese this famous fresh salad is comprised of layers of tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese. The whole salt is then drizzled with balsamic vinegar and finished with a splash of best quality extra virgin olive oil. The flavors combine into a burst of sun-drenched loveliness that is the taste of summer.
While the trifecta of heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil is hard to beat. Adding the sweetness of a perfectly ripe peach is just summer magic. And the colors of this salad are just beautiful.
How to Plate Fresh Peach Caprese Salad
You can cut the ingredients into thin wedges and layer them on individual salad plates for a stunning presentation.
Or you can make a ring of the peach slices around a shallow platter and then form a concentric ring of the slices inside, ending with smaller chunks of the tomatoes, peaches, and cheese mounded in the center.
Since basil leaves can be large and hard to eat in one bite, I often will layer the basil in the outer ring and then chiffonade the remaining basil for this salad. (Learn how to chiffonade basil in this recipe for Warm Pasta and Vegetable Salad.
How to Pick Ripe Peaches
Peaches are like avocados, you may need to let them ripen for a few days before using them. Look for perfectly ripe peaches at farmers’ markets right now.
How to Make Balsamic Glaze
Aged balsamic vinegar is a seductive ingredient—mellow and complex at the same time, almost sweet with an acidic endnote—it is simply wonderful. And the price tag for a well-aged basic vinegar is not so wonderful. Use the “good stuff” like you would an expensive finishing salt or olive oil.
You can get enhance a medium-priced balsamic vinegar by making a balsamic reduction (sometimes called a glaze). Don’t use the cheapest balsamic vinegar available since you are concentrating the flavors and the inexpensive vinegar will produce a sharp glaze that doesn’t have the mellow rich flavor you want to drizzle over this salad.
Since you will reduce the vinegar by at least half, don’t waste the expensive stuff in this recipe. Look for a mid-priced vinegar, (or even use a golden or white balsamic vinegar) the process is simple and can be done while you are puttering around the kitchen.
Tips for Making Balsamic Reduction
- Use a small saucepan with no lid since you want the steam to escape.
- Simmer—heat until there are small bubbles around the edges of the pan, but not rilling bubbles forming in the middle.
- Use a spoon or spatula to measure the starting level and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar is reduced by half. (You can check it against the line on the utensil and when the edges of the pan start to form a coating.)
- Be careful to not cook the vinegar at too high a boil or for too long as it can easily burn and that will not only run the reduction, it will make your whole kitchen smell.
- The balsamic glaze will thicken as it cools. You are looking for the consistency of high-grade maple syrup.
Fixing a Balsamic Glaze
- If the reduction is too thin once it has cooled, simply bring it back up to a simmer for about 5-7 more minutes until it has reached your desired thickness.
- I can’t tell you how long your vinegar will take to transform into a lovely glaze. It depends on the viscosity of the balsamic vinegar you use, your stove, and your pan. When I make a balsamic reduction it typically takes anywhere between 25-40 minutes. I make sure I am near the stove and can check the pan and how the vinegar is reducing.
- When the vinegar has cooled, taste and you may want to add an additional squeeze of honey if the flavor is too sharp. I sometimes will sprinkle in a pinch of finely ground white pepper to give it some punch.
- Store the balsamic reduction in an airtight container in your pantry for 2-3 weeks. Or you can store it in the refrigerator for a longer time, but it will have to come to room temperature in order to nicely drizzle.
Bursting with the flavors of summer this fresh peach Caprese salad elevates tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese to beautiful fruity heights.
- 1–2 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into thin wedges, (about 1 cup)
- 3–4 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced or cut into thin wedges (about 2 –2–1/2 cups)
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves (remove the stems), (about 1/2 cup)
- 8–12 ounce ball of fresh mozeralla, sliced into 1/8 – 1/4” thick slices
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2–3 tablespoons honey
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, stir the balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons honey together and bring to a simmer.
- Check the liquid level with a spoon or spatula and simmer until the vinegar has reduced by half. Stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Check the taste and add additional honey to your taste preference. The glaze should be the consistency of thick maple syrup.
- Store the remaining glaze in an airtight container in the pantry or refrigerator. (You will use about 2 tablespoons balsamic reduction for this salad.)
- Peel and slice the peaches into wedges.
- Remove the core and slice or wedge the tomatoes.
- Slice the mozzarella cheese.
- Arrange the peach, tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves on a shallow platter or individual salad plates.
- Drizzle the peach caprese salad with balsamic reduction and finish with a drizzle of good olive oil, then kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
- Serve and bask in the compliments of this fresh summer salad.