Peach and mozzarella salad with crispy lemon zest and basil

by Felicity Cloake

Creamy, lactic mozzarella with sweet, slightly acidic fruit

Frying something as fresh and aromatic as lemon zest may sound counter-intuitive, but in fact it only enhances the flavour, releasing all sorts of lovely volatile oils and rendering it deliciously crisp in the process. I love the combination of creamy, lactic mozzarella with sweet, slightly acidic fruit—for a more robust dish, swap the peaches for ripe tomatoes and serve the lot on sourdough toast.


2 large unwaxed lemon
12 tbsp olive oil
4-6 fairly ripe peaches or nectarines, depending on size
2 balls of buffalo mozzarella
8 sprigs of basil


Peel the zest from the lemons in strips, keeping them as thin as possible to avoid the bitter white pith. Scrape any pith off the peel with a sharp knife, then cut the strips into long thin lengths. Put a plate lined with kitchen paper by the hob.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan and, when hot, fry the zest for about 30 secs, until just beginning to crisp and colour. Use a slotted spoon to scoop on to the paper to drain, and allow the oil in the pan to cool.

Juice the lemon and whisk the cooled oil into 4 tbsp of the juice. Season to taste.

Slice the peaches and divide between four small plates in an overlapping circle. Sprinkle with a little dressing, then cut the mozzarella balls in half and put one half, curved side up, in the centre of each of the plates. Spoon a little more dressing over the top, season, and sprinkle with the lemon zest strips and torn basil leaves to serve.

Recipe: Felicity Cloake
Image: Helen Cathcart