Heirloom tomatoes? Check. Tree-ripened peaches and plums? Yes. Add a last-minute toss of some fresh garden herbs and we’re already thinking we’re on to something great. And yet, the masterstroke behind the surprising stone fruit and tomato mix of top chef Claudette Zepeda’s Summer Salad is the deeply hued chamoy dressing. Inspired by a popular Mexican condiment that’s made with fruit, chiles and lime juice, Chamoy is thicker than most dressings—more like a paste—so it is spread on the bottom of the platter before heaping the fruit and tomatoes on top, making for an especially beautiful presentation for this summery salad.
For Claudette Zepeda, chef and former Top Chef and Top Chef Mexico competitor, it’s the arrival of stone fruit that really kicks off summer. Instead of using lettuce, she loves to make a summer salad with ” big wedges of the ripest tomatoes I can get my hands on,” plus whatever stone fruit looks best at the market. (If you can’t find large heirloom tomatoes, you can substitute halved heirloom cherry tomatoes.)
Don’t skimp when it comes to serving. A salad this beautiful deserves tableware which matches its appeal. Our Cyprus salad plates (pictured with the salad above) are finished with a jewel-like reactive glaze in no less than 10 mesmerizing hues—each plate a piece of art every bit as captivating as the multi-dimensional mix of fruit and herbs with which it’s paired. Serve this summery dish with crusty slice of sourdough and a chilled crisp white wine or iced green tea and your friends will remember it for the rest of the summer.
Summer Salad with Chamoy Dressing
For the Chamoy Dressing:
- 1/4 cup (1/2 oz/14 g) dried hibiscus flowers
- 1/4 cup (1 1/2 o/45/g) dried apricots
- 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1 to 2 Tbs. chile powder, preferably gochugaru (Korean Chile pepper)
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Pinch of citric acid (optional)
For the salad:
- 3 peaches, pitted and quartered
- Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing and drizzling
- 3 plums, pitted and quartered
- 3 heirloom tomatoes, each cut into 4 to 6 wedges
- 8 oz (250 g) soft farmers’ cheese or queso fresco
- 1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 cup (1 oz/30 g) mixed fresh herbs, such as fresh flat-leaf parsley, cilantro and thyme leaves or chopped chives
- Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
To make the dressing, in a small saucepan over low heat, combine the hibiscus flowers, dried apricots, water, lime juice, sugar, chile powder, kosher salt and citric acid. (use 1 Tbs chile powder for a less spicy dressing, or 2 Tbs for more heat.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let stand until the apricots are soft, about 15 minutes.
Let the mixture cool slightly, then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (The dressing can be made up to 1 day in advance.)
Prepare a medium fire in a grill, or preheat a grill pan over medium heat. Lightly brush the cut sides of the peach quarters with olive oil. Place the peaches, cut side down, on the grill and cook until nicely grill-marked, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook on the other cut side until grill-marked, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.
To assemble the salad, spread a few large spoonfuls of the dressing on the bottom of a serving platter or in a large, shallow bowl. Arrange the peaches, plums and tomatoes on top of the dressing and crumble the cheese over the top. Garnish with the onion and herbs and season lightly with sea salt and pepper. Drizzle the salad all over with olive oil and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.