As the summer winds down, I find myself savoring its last vestiges: local peaches and heirloom tomatoes.
Where I live, peaches come from Palisade, where they are glorious. I buy a case on Wednesdays at the farmers market and by Saturday they are gone. My children have gobbled them up, and my husband and I have had one each, if we are lucky. Our tomatoes come from Borden Farms, located in the fertile Uncompahgre Valley in the historic farming community of Pea Green, Colorado. Guy and Lynn at Borden know tomatoes—heirloom tomatoes. I have never tasted better.
We all have Alexander the Great to thank for our peaches. While he is known as one of the greatest military geniuses of all time, I consider him “great” because he introduced the peach to Europe after he conquered Persia. From Europe, the peach eventually made its way to our shores.
The tomato is native to Central America and was cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 AD. But it actually had to travel across the oceans via the conquistadors in the 16th century to make it back to our shores in the mid 1800’s and become a part of kitchen gardens across the U.S.
Now that you have a bit of history, let's combine these two sweet nectars, fresh from the vine and ripe from the tree, into one of my very favorite salads.
Peach and Heirloom Caprese—Simple, Sweet, and Sumptuous
3 perfectly ripe peaches
3 medium heirloom tomatoes (pick a rainbow of colors, not just one variety)
16-ounce log of freshly made mozzarella
1/2 cup finely chopped Kalamata olives
2 ounces fresh basil
4 ounces fresh arugula
For the dressing:
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Start by mixing the dressing in a jar. Shake it up and set it aside.
Slice your peaches, tomatoes, and mozzarella evenly. You decide what thickness you like. I tend toward 1/8 inch—just enough to get a snapshot of each flavor. Finely chop the Kalamatas. Separate the basil leaves from the stems.
Be an artist with the colors—paint vibrantly.
Place a layer of arugula on a nice serving platter, then the peaches, the mozzarella, basil leaves, and last the tomatoes. Be an artist with the colors—paint vibrantly. Shake the dressing one more time and drizzle it on. Top with a sprinkling of the Kalamatas.
Serve, and savor this summer bounty, which won’t come again until next July. And remember why we cherish the summer—for me, it's these flavors.