It is now peak tomato season, and one of my favorite summer appetizers is a simple tomato and mozzarella salad. I remember the first one I ever had. It was 1982, I had a ghastly hangover, and was absolutely  famished when I arrived on a nearby friend’s doorstep in London. She’d just come home from the local Italian deli, and prepared what at the time felt like a sumptuous feast (it was my model days, salads were a feast).

With Astrid Wyman, Andy Taylor, Steve Strange, and Francesca at my wedding

Funny, but even though the years have taken us to different parts of the globe, and we didn’t see each other quite literally for decades – every time I had a tomato and mozzarella salad, I would think of Francesca and the carefree days of our untamed youth. I’ve marveled for years over the way people weave in and out of our

Valerie Perrine, Julie Anne Rhodes, Marella Oppenheim, and Francesca Thyssen

lives. For now, after all the years and continents dividing us, we are once again neighbors. I prepared a welcome to LA dinner for her not long ago, and purposely chose this salad as our starter. No sooner had I placed the plates on the table in anticipation of her imminent arrival, and the phone rang with her pleading jet

Roasted vine tomatoes over burrata with pesto sauce

lag, and would I please meet her for dinner across town. Considering she had just traveled all the way from Jordan, I figured I could meet her three miles away in Beverly Hills, but I did wish she’d called before I opened several packages of burrata, fresh from the farmer’s market, that would now go to waste since it had been removed from it’s liquid. Then my sister gave me a great tip – you can preserve the opened cheese in milk, and it worked! I enjoyed my salad for several days afterwards, and will never again fret over any unused portions. What is your favorite summer treat, and what memories does it conjure up for you when you eat it?

Thanks for the tip sis!

PS. To make the lovely salad above:

1). Roast vine or cherry tomatoes, leaving the stems on, lightly coated in olive oil, sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, in a preheated 400°F. oven for 15-20 minutes; let cool to room temperature.

2). Make some pesto sauce, I use 1 cup fresh basil, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons pine nuts, juice and zest of one lemon, 2 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper – puree in food processor while gradually adding enough extra-virgin olive oil to achieve desired consistency; or use store bought.

3). Best quality fresh burrata, bufala mozzarella, or mozzarella fresco you can find. Assemble as pictured above.

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