I am a creature of habit. When July comes, I know it’s time to eat as many tomatoes and peaches and nectarines as I can. The opposite of a squirrel hoarding acorns for winter, I bring home bushels to devour as quickly as possible, savouring the short-lived bounty before it disappears again.
Maybe that’s why I keep making tomato salads – like last year’s, accompanied by fig-leaf-wrapped goat cheese, or one from years past with strawberries and mojama. Then there were those in our cookbook: a caprese salad with burrata; nectarine and panzanella. But this one, which feels like a synthesis of them all, might be my favourite yet.
Working with a classic base of heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and burrata (though you could use mozzarella if you prefer), this salad then goes baroque with wedges of nectarines, slices of figs and toasted pistachios. Diced preserved lemon and dates – additions borrowed from a salad I recently enjoyed at London restaurant Spring, and which I never would have otherwise thought of using in this context – add acidity and sweetness; chopped up finely, they really do resemble confetti. Dressing it all is a beautifully chartreuse-hued fig-leaf oil. (I’m obsessed with fig leaves’ fragrance and versatile culinary applications; but if you don’t feel like foraging for your leaves, extra virgin olive oil works just fine).
I didn’t know I could feel more pleased with how this salad turned out until I had it alongside a bottle of Christina Rosé 2022, which hails from Austria and is made with 100% Zweigelt. An almost unbelievably electric shade of coral, it has a beautiful structure and bright pops of cherry and cranberry to match its hyperreal hue. And it’s an ideally summery companion for this peak-July salad. Why wait to enjoy, when you can savour both at their best right now?
Summer Tomato and Nectarine Confetti Salad
For the salad:
6-8 large heirloom tomatoes
4-5 small heirloom tomatoes
Flaky sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, toasted
2 ripe nectarines or peaches
4 large figs
100g shelled pistachios
2 wedges preserved lemons
4 sweet, soft dates
2 large bunches basil leaves
2 whole burrata (or mozzarella if you prefer)
150ml fig leaf oil (optional, or use extra virgin olive oil)
Juice of 1 lemon
1. First, make the fig oil (if using). Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the fig leaves for around 1 minute, or until bright green. Transfer to a bowl of ice water; once cool, dry thoroughly. Transfer to a blender with the neutral oil and blend for 3-5 minutes, or until the leaves are very finely ground and the oil is a light green hue. Leave to infuse for at least 20 minutes, or up to overnight in the fridge. Strain using a cheesecloth and set aside.
2. Prepare the salad. Core and slice the heirloom tomatoes, both large and small. Season to taste with flaky sea salt and black pepper and set aside while you prepare the rest.
3. Halve the nectarines or peaches and thinly slice, discarding the pits. Next, halve the figs and slice into thin wedges. Set aside.
4. Toast the pistachios. Place a frying pan over medium heat and add the nuts. Toast, tossing frequently, for roughly 5 minutes, or until they are golden-brown and fragrant. Remove from the heat and leave until cool enough to handle. Chop roughly and set aside.
5. Remove any seeds or stems from the preserved lemon wedges before finely dicing. Halve and pit the dates and finely dice.
6. To assemble the salad, scatter the basil leaves over the plates and arrange the tomato, nectarine and fig slices across each. Sprinkle over the pistachios, as well as the diced preserved lemons and dates. Divide one burrata between two plates, tearing roughly, and then drizzle over the fig leaf oil (or extra virgin olive oil) and the lemon juice. Season with any additional salt or pepper to taste, and then serve right away.
Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer hound and all-around lover of tasty things. You can follow her at @clairembullen. For more recipes like this, sign up to our Natural Wine Killers wine subscription - you'll receive Claire's recipe and food pairings plus expert tasting notes for three amazing wines like this one every month.