Freshen up your healthy lifestyle with this Nectarine and Mozzarella Salad With Basil Vinaigrette

Ever noticed that the salads you order at restaurants are somehow more delicious than the ones you put together at home?  Every bite seems to have perfect crunch and zest, and a more satisfying, full flavour.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  By paying attention to flavour pairings and textures, as well as getting creative with seasonal ingredients, there’s no reason why you can’t whip up restaurant-worthy salads in your own kitchen.

South Africa is blessed with an abundance of home-grown produce, and as the end of summer nears, you should be taking full advantage of the stone fruit season.  Peaches, nectarines and plums are amongst the most versatile of fruits, and deserve a pride of place in your summer salads.  Having a repertoire of easy, yet delicious salad recipes also helps us serve up a tasty, balanced meal when family dinners are frequently disrupted by power cuts.

Consider some of the things that restaurant chefs may be doing differently when it comes to creating their ‘moreish’ salads:

  • Adding seasonings such as spices, herbs, honey and citrus to salad dressings that have a good balance of three parts oil to one part acid such vinegar or lemon or lime juice
  • Using a mix of greens for a variety of textures and flavours instead of one type of lettuce
  • Adding grains, legumes, noodles, seeds and nuts because a salad doesn’t have to be dominated by leaves
  • Using star ingredients that both stand-out and complement

It’s worth taking the time to recognise the ‘flavour bombs’ you can create using peaches, nectarines and plums as hero salad ingredients.  The bright sweetness of stone fruits pairs perfectly with a wide range of possible salad ingredients such as:

  • Cheeses – ricotta, mozzarella, blue cheese, goat’s cheese, brie and camembert
  • Meats – prosciutto, gammon, seafood, chicken and duck
  • Greens – rocket, lettuce, cress, shredded cabbage, baby kale and young spinach
  • Herbs – mint, basil, rosemary, tarragon, coriander and thyme
  • Spices – ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, black and cayenne peppers
  • Grains and legumes – barley, cous-cous, rice, quinoa, black beans and chickpeas
  • Nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews, walnuts and peanuts
  • Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, flax and sesame seeds
  • Vegetables – red onions, garlic, fennel, radish, peas, carrots, bell peppers, chilies and baby marrows
  • Fruits – lemons, limes, blueberries, cape gooseberries, tomatoes and avocados

For inspiration, here is an irresistible stone fruit salad recipes compiled by Juicy Delicious and created by cookbook author, Sam Linsell:

Nectarine and Mozzarella Salad With Basil Vinaigrette


Basil Vinaigrette

  • 30gms basil leaves (approx. 2 cups lightly packed)
  • 25gms shallot (½ small), chopped
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (half a small lemon)
  • 2 Tbsp white/red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (mild in flavour)
  • ¾ tsp sea salt flakes such as Maldon
  • Pinch black pepper
  • ½ tsp honey – optional

Nectarine and Mozzarella Salad

  • 4 – 5 ripe or slightly under ripe nectarines, cut in half and sliced into wedges
  • 1 ball of fior di late mozzarella/Buffalo mozzarella or burrata
  • About 150gms net weight of cheese
  • 1 wheel goats milk feta (or regular feta) (approx. 70gms)
  • Juice from half a small lemon
  • 1 Tbsp vodka (optional)
  • Small handful chopped walnuts
  • Leaves from a couple of mint sprig’s, roughly torn
  • A small handful of wild rocket leaves
  • A generous coating of basil vinaigrette
  • Sea salt flakes and black pepper


  1. To make the basil vinaigrette, place all the ingredients into a small or power blender and blitz until smooth.
  2. Pour the dressing into a jar and keep any leftover for later use.
  3. Assemble the salad just before you want to serve it.
  4. Place the sliced nectarines in a bowl with the vodka and lemon juice and give it a toss. Allow to soak for about 5 -10 minutes.
  5. Scatter most of the sliced nectarines on a platter (reserving a few to go on top) and then break the mozzarella into rough pieces and place in and around the fruit.
  6. Crumble the feta over the nectarines and mozzarella.
  7. Scatter over the remaining nectarines.
  8. Generously drizzle the salad with basil vinaigrette.
  9. Scatter the chopped walnuts, mint leaves and wild rocket.

More stone fruit salad recipes:
Crab Stick Salad With Nectarines and Plums by Jenny Morris
Sticky Black Rice With Lime and Mint Coated Nectarines by Justine Drake

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