Among the many difference in our cooking styles, Dylan loves to cook on a large scale. He delights in cooking for an over-flowing tableful of friends and if anything, has a tendency to make far too many courses. It is not unusual for our guests to go home with achingly full bellies and our fridge to groan under the weight of leftovers from Dylan’s over-ambition. Last night we threw a dinner party for the first time in months. Dylan found himself between medical school rotations and I am in the midst of switching over to a new post-doctoral fellowship and so it seemed the perfect time to spend the day cooking, cleaning, and hosting. Recognizing that Dylan hasn’t had any opportunity to flex his creative culinary muscle these days, so to speak, after warning him not to go overboard, I left him in the kitchen to pull together his idea of the perfect 6-course menu for eight guests.
The food was wildly successful- light, fresh, flavorful and full of lovely late summer ingredients. I’ll be blogging the entire menu in the week to come, but I’ll start with this lovely peach caprese, a variation on the beloved tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad. Our version replaced the classic tomato with thin slices of sweet, ripe yellow peach straight from the morning’s farmer’s market. Silence fell over our party as everyone hungrily eyed the platter, which looked like colorful, dappled modern art. Needless to say, not a sliver of onion, not a shred of basil was left when we finished this course. If you still can get your hands on late summer peaches, this is a terrific, modern dish for a hot evening.
Peach caprese (serves 8 as a light salad course)
1 red onion, sliced thin
1 large peach, sliced thin (use a mandoline, if you like)
1 log of fresh mozzarella, cut into thin rounds (about 6 ounces)
handful of basil, chiffonaded
freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp of olive oil
splash of balsamic vinegar reduction (see Dylan’s recipe here)
1. Layer the ingredients loosely on a large platter in the following order: onion, peaches, basil, cheese. Repeat so that there’s two layers of each ingredient.
2. Put half a handful of basil, salt, pepper, and 3 tbsp of olive oil in a mortar and grind with a pestle to muddle the flavors. Drizzle lightly over the layered salad.
3. Top with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction and serve room temperature or chilled.