While the summer months are over and fall is approaching, this is nonetheless one of the best times of year for cooking, in my opinion—not to mention eating outside. The weather is a tad cooler, but the produce is still excellent. It's a season for simple recipes that simply emphasize the quality of the ingredients at hand.
Why I Picked This Recipe: In that spirit, I selected this recipe from Tyler Florence, which relies on gorgeous, juicy peaches as a counterpoint to shaved fennel, peppery watercress, creamy mozzarella, and crisp slices of prosciutto.
What Worked: I'd never crisped prosciutto before—it seems in some ways like a crime to cook something that has aged gracefully for so long. And yet, I loved the result: 20 minutes in the oven produce crisp, porky shards that elevate this salad considerably.
What Didn't: When I dressed this salad according to the recipe, the mozarella was coated in balsamic and lost its gorgeous white color. So I ended up remaking it with new mozarella and simply nestling the curds amongst the other ingredients.
Suggested Tweaks: Watercress is a wonderful element in this salad, but fresh arugula would be equally good, and is probably easier to find.
Adapted from Tyler Florence.
- 4 ripe peaches, pitted and cut into large wedges
- 1/2 fennel bulb, shaved into thin crescents (preferably with a mandoline)
- 8 thin slices prosciutto
- 2 cups fresh watercress
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, preferably buffalo, cut into bite-size pieces
Pre-heat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. On a baking sheet, lay the slices of prosciutto in a single layer. Bake until firm and golden, 15–20 minutes. The prosciutto may not be crisp in the oven, but will become crisp as it cools.
In the meantime, toss the peaches, fennel, and watercress together in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar and oil, adding the oil in a slow stream to create an emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss the vegetables together with the dressing and arrange on a serving platter or on plates. Nestle the mozarella amongst the ingredients, and top with the crisp prosciutto.