Celebrate summer with a caramelized peach Caprese salad. Sugar flavored with thyme adds complexity to the natural sweetness of the peaches.
Before we had kids, my husband and I went on a charity bike ride that was 150 miles long over 2 days. He had been on the ride the previous year and convinced me and a few other people that it was a great weekend. Obviously we were all a little skeptical about riding a bike for 75 miles a day. He described the wonderful camaraderie of the fellow riders, the route that wound through pastoral farmland, and lastly the celebratory barbeque at the end of the ride.
Somehow, he convinced us, guileless lemmings, to join him. We did one 15 mile training ride the weekend before, convinced it was enough. Well, of course, it wasn't. On the first day, well before noon, we were spent and grinding to a halt at one of the rest stops. With a rolling gait, we slowly made our way to the snack table. Peaches, piled high on the table and offered by well-meaning volunteers, were the snack to fortify us for another 12-15 mile ride to the next rest stop.
What was not well-meaning were the peaches. Lacking any sweetness, these were hard as a rock, dry and bland. These apple peaches, as we referred to them, were not part of the brochure description given to us by my husband. Definitely not the juicy fruit we anticipated.
Whenever I see peaches arriving at the grocery store during the summer, I think back to the unfulfilled promise of those sad peaches.
A summer Caprese salad
The Caprese salad has become a summer staple and for good reason. It is luscious and refreshingly cool. However, in this recipe, we change it up a bit with some of the season's best produce.
But a summer salad should not be fussy or pretentious. The peak ripeness of fruits and vegetables is the perfect camouflage for an imperfect technique. But what if that imperfect technique was by choice?
The best peaches to use for this recipe are ripe enough that they will twist off the pit. You can use any type of peaches you prefer - yellow, white, donut, or even nectarines.
To up the ante on the peaches, dip them in sugar that has been doctored with a few sprigs of thyme. Only dip the peaches once the pan is preheated. If they sit too long with the sugar coating before they go into the pan, the peaches will start to leach juice.
The key is to brown the peaches carefully so that they do not burn or get mushy. It only takes about 1 - 2 minutes on each side to caramelize the fruit. The herby sweetness of the peaches is a perfect contrast to the saltiness of the prosciutto and the creaminess of the fresh mozzarella.
Putting the salad together
I like to arrange a base of arugula for a peppery bite. And that imperfect technique? Just tear the prosciutto, mozzarella, and basil. Place everything randomly on top of the arugula. Nestle the caramelized peaches in the salad. There is no need for precision. Lastly, drizzle balsamic glaze on top of the salad. Perfect for a summer barbeque or if you need a dish for a pot luck supper. This caramelized peach Caprese salad will be your go-to!
Caramelized Peach Caprese Salad
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 2 peaches ripe
- 2 cups arugula
- 4 oz fresh mozzarella
- 3 oz prosciutto
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- balsamic glaze
- salt & pepper to taste
- Combine sugar and thyme in food processor. Pulse about 8 times until the thyme is in very small pieces.
Carmelize the Peaches
- Cut the peaches into ⅛s. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Once the pan is hot, dip half of the peaches in the sugar and place in pan. Let the peaches cook for 1 - 2 minutes until the sugared side down starts to turn brown. Do not let the sugar turn black - the sugar will then be burnt and have a bitter taste. Flip the peaches over and cook this side for 1-2 minutes. Carefully take the peaches out of the pan. The pan may need to be wiped with a paper towel to clean any remaining brown or black sugar. Repeat the process with the remaining peaches.
- Tear the mozzarella cheese and the prosciutto into bite sized pieces. Scatter the arugula on the serving dish. Start to add the prosciutto and the cheese randomly on the plate. Nestle the peaches into the salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the basil and the balsamic glaze.