This salad is a thing of beauty — both literally and metaphorically. The problem is that it’s incredibly hard to classify. Is it a dessert? A side dish? A savory salad? It’s all of those things and so much more. It’s perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream — the herbaceous basil plays off of the creamy vanilla. Its absolutely fantastic as a side dish to a juicy pork chop — the acidity of the balsamic cuts the fatty goodness of the pork. And it’s fantastic as a starter salad for a dinner party — either served simply like this or on a bed of peppery arugula.
Stone fruit are the delicious sweet summer fruit, like peaches and plums, that have a large stone in the middle. The stone definitely makes them annoying to cut up, but other than that, they’re really a quintessential summer fruit. Who doesn’t love cherries and peaches in the summer time? If you go to the grocery store this time of year you’re likely to find a huge display of these fruit and you should grab as many different types as you can for this salad — they all bring a different texture, flavor or color that combine to make this salad particularly great.
The addition of salt, pepper, basil and vinegar are what make this so much more interesting and complex than a regular fruit salad. I honestly cannot stress this enough… every single thing you add to this will stand out in its own way so please please please use great quality ingredients. Fresh black pepper, large flaky sea salt like Maldon, and fresh, fragrant basil are all really important. But the most important thing is the quality of the vinegar you use here — invest in a great syrupy white balsamic vinegar and it will elevate dozens of your dishes… particularly this one.
- 2 pounds of stone fruit (combination of nectarines, peaches and plums)
- 8 basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoon of quality white balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the stone fruit into ½ inch slices. You can either: 1) cut a circle around the radius of the fruit, split it in half and then remove the pit in the middle before cutting into slices or 2) just cut less uniform slices around the pit until you get to the middle. Even though it wastes a small amount of the fruit, I prefer the second method.
- Put all of the fruit into a large bowl and toss with the basil and half of the vinegar. Add one pinch (3 turns on a mill) of fresh black pepper and a very small pinch of sea salt. Taste for seasoning -- the salt and pepper should be subtle.
- Arrange on plates or a platter and drizzle with remaining vinegar.