This crowd-pleasing nectarine salad is a beautiful ensemble of bright reds, oranges and greens that promises to instantly liven up any table.
It offers an ideal harmony of flavours, combining the sweetness of ripe, juicy nectarines, the savoury notes of mozzarella and salty feta cheese and the peppery freshness of rocket.
Tying it all together is a delicious basil vinaigrette, quick to whip up and far superior to any store-bought dressing.
Moreover, this sensational salad requires only basic ingredients and takes just 10 minutes to assemble.
It's substantial enough for a satisfying standalone meal and makes an excellent packed lunch or vibrant side dish for a barbecue.
What's to love about this recipe
- Fresh, sweet, tangy, savoury and crunchy, all in one.
- Easily customisable with your favourite herbs, nuts and cheeses.
- This delicious salad is substantial enough for a stand-alone meal.
- 10 minutes to make.
Key Ingredients notes and substitutions
**Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients.
While we suggest yellow nectarines for their vibrant colour in the salad, feel free to use white nectarines. Some even argue that white-fleshed nectarines are a tad sweeter!
How do you tell yellow and white nectarines apart?
Distinguishing between them in the store can be tricky. First, check the label, it might tell you. If not, focus on undertones - yellow nectarines have a deep, golden-yellow undertone, while white nectarines have a pale yellow undertone.
Secondly, white-flesh nectarines tend to have a more heart-shaped appearance, while yellow ones are generally rounder.
How to tell if a nectarine is ripe
To check if a nectarine is ripe, gently press near the stem end. It should give slightly and have a fragrant aroma. If it feels firm or smells underripe (no aroma), let it ripen at room temperature for a day or two.
As for colour, redder doesn't necessarily mean riper. Instead, focus on the undertones again. The non-red areas, especially near the stem, should be yellow and not greenish-yellow.
How ripe should the nectarines for the salad be?
The ideal ripeness for nectarines in the salad is neither overly ripe nor underripe - They should be Goldilocks ripe.
If the nectarines are too ripe, they'll be too soft, risking squishiness and an unappealing appearance. They should be firm enough to hold their shape.
How to stop the nectarines from browning once sliced
If your salad might be sitting out for a while, take steps to prevent the nectarines from losing their vibrant colour.
In the recipe, we recommend a quick 3-minute lemon juice bath. Simply combine the juice from half a lemon with 200ml of water in a bowl. Let the nectarine slices soak in this lemon bath for 3 minutes, then drain them well.
The best way to slice a nectarine
Cut in half: Start by cutting the nectarine in half, moving your knife around the natural indentation where the fruit was attached to the stem.
Twist and separate: Hold each half and twist gently to separate them. You can now see the pit or stone inside.
Remove the pit: To remove the pit, use a knife or spoon. If using a knife, carefully insert it between the pit and the flesh and twist to loosen it. If using a spoon, scoop around the pit and lift it out.
Our recipe calls for one ball of fresh Mozzarella and roughly 100g of feta cheese. If you have a preference for one over the other, simply adjust the quantities accordingly.
While slicing the Mozzarella is an option, torn-off pieces not only look more appealing but also add a touch of rustic charm to the salad.
Other cheeses to consider are creamy Burrata, goat cheese and grilled halloumi.
How to make Nectarine Salad: Step-by-step
- Slice the nectarines into thin slices, about 1cm (0.4") at the widest part.
- Optional step to preserve colour: Place all the slices in a shallow bowl and squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the nectarines.
- Add roughly 200ml of cold water, give it a stir, and let the slices soak in the lemon bath for 3 minutes before draining well.
Don't worry, the sweetness of the nectarines will counter the tangy lemon juice, it's not noticeable.
- Very finely chop the basil and add it, along with the virgin olive oil, vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, salt and black pepper to a small bowl.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together using a fork or a small whisk.
Alternatively, you can add the ingredients to a small food processor and blend for a smoother consistency.
- Arrange half of the sliced nectarines on a large plate, large platter or in a large bowl.
- Tear off pieces of mozzarella and place them between and on top of the nectarines.
- Crumble over the feta cheese.
- Drizzle some of the salad dressing over the cheeses and save the remainder to serve with the salad.
- Arrange the remaining nectarine slices on top of the cheese.
- Finally, sprinkle with chopped nuts and add a flourish of rocket and basil leaves.
- Serve with the salad dressing and provide salt and black pepper on the side.
Alternative cheeses: Burrata, grilled halloumi, goat cheese, blue cheese, grilled paneer, parmesan shavings or Cotija.
Alternative fresh herbs: Parsley and coriander. Can replace the basil in both the dressing and the decoration.
Alternative nuts: Chopped cashews, peanuts, pistachios, chopped macadamia nuts, toasted pine nuts.
Alternative vinegar: White or dark balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar.
Alternative sweeteners: Maple syrup and agave syrup.
Extras: Cucumber, bean sprouts, red onion, shallots, creamy avocado, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, lime juice, crunchy radishes, baby spinach or other leafy greens, chilli flakes, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, coarse sea salt.
Grilled chicken (or other grilled meat) on the side is a great addition to this salad recipe with its sweet nectarines and peppery arugula.
As with any salad, it's best enjoyed freshly made. However, the salad will keep well for up to 6 hours but don't add the greenery on top until the last minute.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and will last well until the next day.
Nectarine Salad with Rocket (Arugula) and a basil dressing
- 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
- 6 tablespoons virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar - or vinegar of choice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 5 nectarines - yellow flesh
- ½ lemon (optional) - for lemon bath to stop discolouration
- 125 grams (4.5oz) mozzarella ball
- 100 grams (3.5oz) feta cheese
- small handful pecan or walnuts, chopped
- small handful basil leaves
- handful rocket (arugula)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Slice the nectarines into thin slices, about 1cm (0.4") at the widest part.5 nectarines
- Optional step to preserve colour: Place all the slices in a shallow bowl and squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the nectarines.Add roughly 200ml of cold water, give it a stir and let the slices soak in the lemon bath for 3 minutes before draining well.**If you are serving the salad immediately, you can skip this step.½ lemon (optional)
- Very finely chop the basil and add it, along with all the salad dressing ingredients, to a small bowl.2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed, 6 tablespoons virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, ½ teaspoon dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, freshly ground black pepper
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together using a fork or a small whisk.Alternatively, you can add the ingredients to a small food processor and blend for a smoother consistency.
- Arrange half of the sliced nectarines on a large plate or platter.
- Tear off pieces of mozzarella and place them between and on top of the nectarines.125 grams (4.5oz) mozzarella ball
- Crumble over the feta cheese.100 grams (3.5oz) feta cheese
- Drizzle some of the salad dressing over the cheese and save the remainder to serve with the salad.
- Arrange the remaining nectarine slices on top of the cheese.
- Finally, sprinkle with chopped nuts and add a flourish of rocket and basil leaves.small handful pecan or walnuts, chopped, small handful basil leaves, handful rocket (arugula)
- Serve with the salad dressing and provide salt and black pepper on the side.salt and pepper to taste
**Nutritional data disclaimer**
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is calculated by a third party and we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We try our best to give you the most accurate information, but we do not take responsibility for errors that may be present. Also, the nutritional value of the recipe may change depending on the exact brands and products used. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised advice on your dietary needs.