Peach, Tomato and Whipped Ricotta Salad

August 24, 2018

 

 

What is it about that first full week of school that kicks everyone’s proverbial arse? Or is it just something that happens in the House of T.? By the end of that first week, we’re sad little sacks of exhaustion. We’re already longing for those luscious summer mornings where the day doesn’t begin until the very civilized hour of 7 or 7:30 in the morning. Oh, the cruelty of the alarm now buzzing in my ear at 5:50 AM.

Unfair and sadistic, I tell you.

The young people in the house seem to adjust a little easier; the dog and I are a bit crankier and more sluggish. It’s rare that I drink more than a cup of coffee in the morning and this week it’s taken me at least 3 big honking mugs a day to feel even halfway human.

TGIF, mothersuckers.

One thing that doesn’t suck about the end of summer is the arrival of Palisade peaches in the farmer’s market and grocery store. I realize that in other parts of the nation, peach season happens in late July, but in my neck of the woods, we have to wait until almost September for good, juicy peaches. A peach worth eating is a mighty fine development in my book, so I’m happy to wait.

As far as I’m concerned, peaches from Palisade, on Colorado’s Western slope, are the best dang peaches a girl can hope for. Georgia folks might disagree, and that’s just fine. More Palisade peaches for me. The season only lasts a few weeks, so I’m gearing up to eat myself sick on them. My favorite way to eat a perfect peach (other than standing over the kitchen sink, juice dripping down my wrist) is over a sizable bowl of Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream. And I’ll indulge in that late-summer treat a couple of times while the getting is good, believe me.

However.

Some of us are getting to that menopausal age where we can’t mainline the ice cream the way we used to. It’s a sad, sad day when that reality strikes, but reality it is. Some of us have find other ways to enjoy our peaches. Ways that reek of moderation and diligence. Ways that involve the word “salad.”

Luckily, I do like a good salad, even if it’s a slightly weird one like this. This salad is a riff on a dish I enjoyed late last summer, on a rare dinner out with my husband. That salad involved peaches, tomatoes and copious amounts of creamy burrata cheese (fresh mozzarella with a center of heavy cream). Burrata cheese is nectar of the gods, and that salad was so scrumptious that I kept it in the back of my mind for an entire year, when peaches were again in season. If you can find quality, artisan burrata cheese, more power to you. It’s a luxury item for me, involving a trip to a specialty shop, which I’m not always wont to do. Consuming loads of burrata also kind of goes against that principle of moderation and diligence, so there’s that. There’s also the small problem of a missing gall bladder on my end, so I made my own version using ricotta cheese that I whipped into a frothy, cloud-like blanket. It’s alllllmost as good as a bucketload of burrata.

This salad is a study in contrast: creamy cheese, sweet peach, ripe tomato, crunchy pepitas. I know it’s a little odd-sounding to pair peaches with tomatoes, but they’re both fruits, non? And when both of them are in their prime, it’s a great combination. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, give this salad a try. It’s especially delicious if you’ve got a nice, crusty loaf of baguette to sop it all up with.

Or you can just mainline the Haagen Dazs with your peaches. That’s okay too. Just make sure to eat those peaches* while you can.

 

Peach, Tomato and Whipped Ricotta Salad

serves 4

3 ripe peaches or nectarines, sliced

3 ripe tomatoes, quartered or sliced

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup whole milk ricotta (don’t bullshit around here; use the whole milk ricotta)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 tablespoons toasted pepitas, pine nuts or pistachios

chopped fresh basil (optional)

 

Combine the peaches and tomatoes in a large bowl. Whisk honey, 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice and a little salt and pepper together. Pour over peach mixture and toss very gently. Let marinate for 15 minutes.

Combine ricotta, lemon zest, and two teaspoons olive oil in a mixing bowl. Whip the ricotta (you can use a whisk or a hand/stand mixer) mixture until light and fluffy. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and whip again.

Spread whipped ricotta on a serving platter. Using a slotted spoon, place peach and tomato salad on top of ricotta. Discard any liquid left over in the bowl.

Top salad with toasted seeds/nuts and chopped herbs, if using.

 

*If you are one of those people who detest peach fuzz, nectarines work just fine in this salad, too.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kitschen Bitsch August 29, 2018 at 8:22 pm

So, I am 100% with you on the whole-milk ricotta bandwagon, BUT, as I have no self-control, I have discovered Lidl’s part-skim ricotta is almost as good as the whole milk stuff. I can’t stop eating it, so I had to do damage control. If you have a Lidl, give it a go!

Reply

Dana Talusani August 30, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Kitschen,

What is Lidl? I am jealous that you can find a part-skim ricotta worth eating!

Reply

elizabeth August 30, 2018 at 2:47 pm

I LOVE this! Peach/tomato and burrata (or ricotta!) salad is one of my favorite things to make myself when Michael is traveling for work in the summertime. It’s easy, fast, and usually I’ll add some prosciutto too to add some extra protein.

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