One of my favorite cooking times of the year is the summer-to-fall crossover that occurs every September. Summer favorites, like tomatoes, peppers, peaches, and berries, intersect with early fall apples, greens (hello, again), fennel and squash. Such a generous selection of produce means creative dishes, like this peach, fennel and tomato salad.
Let me correct that: like this grilled peach, fennel and tomato salad.
Grilling season doesn’t have to end with Labor Day Weekend. In fact, grilling becomes more enjoyable, I find, in late summer/early fall’s more gentle temperatures, when standing over a searing flame is actually quite comfortable and, as temperatures dip — think, tailgate weather — huddle-worthy.
I didn’t do as much grilling this year as I normally do — odd, because the summer was actually quite mild, with very few days over 90 degrees. I ate lots of salads, fresh tomatoes (of course), and more mozzarella ciliegine than any one responsible adult should consume. It was my first year growing dinosaur kale, and I don’t know if it was the weather, or what, but a casual scattering of seeds in early spring has produced an ongoing abundance of that lovely savoy-leafed Lacinato kale, outgrowing even the best efforts of the cabbage moth and its offspring to consume same. So, kale, tomato, and basil salads ruled at Casa SoupAddict.
I did very little cooking, aside from boiling water for pasta.
I’m rather nit-picky when it comes to peaches. They have to be that sublime state of firm-but-gently-yielding, juice-dripping perfection. A trip to the market one weekend found only a slightly underripe batch — the kind that need an overnight stay in a paper bag.
Not right for fresh eating, but perfect for grilling. So, I pushed my way through to the grill, moving aside the potted orange tree and rosemary bush, pulled off the spider webby cover and fired her up. At the last minute, I threw a fennel bulb into the mix, which is now in season.
The smoky sweetness of the peaches and fennel, the acidity of the tomatoes (fresh, not grilled), and the creaminess of the burrata was an outstanding combination. With fall crops starting to roll in, I look forward to many crossover dishes to come.
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 peaches, sliced in half, pits removed
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced in half lengthwise, fronds and stems removed
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced into bite-sized wedges
- 1 ball burrata, sliced into wedges
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 fresh basil leaves, torn
- Prepare your grill for direct grilling, and preheat to medium high.
- Brush the peach and fennel halves lightly with olive oil, and place cut side down on the grill grates. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes and flip (there should be visible grill marks). Cook the other side for a minute or two, then remove and set aside to cool.
- When the peaches and fennel can be handled, slice into bite-sized wedges and arrange on a platter. Add the tomatoes and burrata wedges to the platter (don’t forget to spoon any cream that’s escaped from the burrata over the salad). Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle the basil over the top.