One of my favorite things about summer (besides being able to wake up at 10 every morning) is stone fruits. And while this isn't a post about the wonderful sweet things I've done with the 49 cents-a-pound peaches we got this weekend (five whole pounds of them... and I thought we had a problem with zucchini), it is a post about my favorite way to enjoy them. (Actually, my favorite way to enjoy them is sliced plain, but that would make for a rather uneventful post.)
My mom and I both love salad and fruit. The combination of green leaves and sweet/tart fruit is a winning one. In the fall I like to add apples or sauteed pears, in the winter oranges are a great addition, and spring means strawberries. But come summer, the options are so much greater (and so much tastier). This particular rendition utilizes chopped peaches, plums, and nectarines. The peaches add sweetness, the plums contribute a slight tartness, and the nectarines manage to balance between the two extremes. Of course, I also love the variety that each brings to the salad.
But no salad would be complete or memorable without a truly delicious dressing. While I am the first to admit that I'm not too crazy about salad dressing (I'd just as soon eat a salad plain or with a drizzle of vinegar than make a dressing), this is my absolute favorite. My mom just sort of made it up one day, and I immediately began singing its (and her) praises. It is refreshingly tart, blending white wine vinegar with the natural acidity of tomatoes, and has a variation in texture because of the actual tomatoes and bounty of herbs it contains. But I think my favorite thing about this vinaigrette is the rosy hue that the tomato lends to it.
Truthfully, I could make a full meal out of a salad like this, and I often do, but it's perfect as a side to a lighter dinner or lunch, not to mention a fantastic antidote to the grueling summer heat.
Summer Salad with Stone Fruits and Tomato Vinaigrette
This vinaigrette recipe makes about a cup and a half of dressing. I prefer salad lightly dressed, so there is always leftover vinaigrette. It keeps very well in the refrigerator, covered, for about a week.
Yield: 4 servings
2 heads of Romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces
1 plum, roughly chopped
1 nectarine, roughly chopped
1 peach, roughly chopped
1 beefsteak tomato (or about 2 Roma tomatoes)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup mixed leafy herbs (such as basil, parsley, marjoram, chives, and mint), minced
Pinch of garlic powder (or 1 clove of minced garlic)
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Combine lettuce and stone fruits in a large bowl. Halve the tomato. Roughly chop one half and add to the bowl with the lettuce. Finely chop the other tomato and transfer to a jar (or other container), with juice. To jar, add olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, herbs, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Seal jar and shake to incorporate the ingredients. Just before serving, pour dressing over lettuce and toss to combine.