Sometimes the best dish on a brunch or dinner table is the one made with just two or three simple ingredients.
In the last, dwindling days of summer, there’s no more magical pairing for a fresh, so-easy-you-can’t-believe-it salad than tomatoes still warm from the sun and tree-ripened, local peaches.
Both fruits are wonderfully juicy and super sweet, and they just go together like the proverbial peas and carrots. Plus, they’re easy to find at your favorite farmers market if you shop and eat to the season. But the best reason to saddle up to this easy salad is its palate-awakening flavors. Now is when tomatoes actually taste like tomatoes and peaches taste like peaches. Come fall, it’s back to industrially grown fruit that’s often beautiful but totally tasteless.
When shopping, look for fruit that is free of bruises or blemishes. If you’re not preparing the salad for a day or so, it can be just to the left of perfectly ripe because both tomatoes and peaches will ripen on your kitchen counter. Both should feel heavy for their size and neither too solid nor too soft or swollen; peaches with shriveled skin are old. Also, raise it to your nose and breathe in. The fruit should smell wonderfully fragrant — like summer itself.
To easily remove peach skin, cut a small X through the skin of the bottom of the fruit, blanche in boiling water for about 10 seconds (or run under a very hot faucet), then place in ice water. The skin should slide right off. It’s not 100 percent necessary, but I also like to core my tomatoes before cutting them into wedges.
While big, beautiful heirloom tomatoes are best for this recipe, it will also work well with halved cherry tomatoes — just make sure they’re fresh and summer-ripe. To make a meal out of it, consider adding 3 cups of cubed and toasted sourdough bread to the mix to turn it into a hearty panzanella.
Serves 4. Gretchen McKay, Post-Gazette
4 large, ripe peaches (about 2 pounds), peeled, pitted and cut into wedges
2 pounds super-ripe tomatoes (about 4 medium tomatoes), cored and cut into wedges
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion or shallots
1/2 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese, optional
1 cup toasted pecan or walnut pieces
1/2 cup torn fresh basil
Place tomatoes, peaches and onions in a large serving bowl.
In another small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper until well combined. Pour the mixture over the tomatoes, peaches and onions, tossing to coat well.
Let the fruit marinate for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving, fold in feta, nuts and basil.
Alternatively, place sliced peaches, tomatoes and onion on a large plate. Drizzle vinaigrette on top and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving, fold in feta, nuts and basil.