the "Vesta La Crema" salad

You guys, I Frankensteined a salad for roommate dinner late last week, and I can't stop thinking about it. It's to die for, and I would be an utter and complete ass-hat if I didn't share this one with the class. 

First off, a little context: Laura, Dave and I have a favorite pizza place here already. It's called Vesta, and it's located in downtown Redwood City - a darling little hole in the wall with an enormous woodfire pizza oven and no air conditioning, but a huge and shady back patio to mitigate the heat. Their pizzas are fantastically innovative - some of our recent favorites: pistachio pesto and burrata, soppressata with Bing cherries and Calabrian-chile infused honey, and fig and prosciutto. Their July special is a peach and bacon pizza with mascarpone cheese, and I'm not at all ashamed to admit that we've either gone there or ordered it pretty much once a week. 

Additional context, for your edification: One of the wine clubs I joined, La Crema, sends out a newsletter regularly with vineyard information, member specials, and recipes for three-course food and wine pairings. The most recent edition included this recipe for a peach, tomato and corn salad, to be paired with their delicious range of pinot noirs. As I was reading the recipe, I immediately thought of the Vesta pizza, and convinced myself that I needed to make this salad...and add bacon...and a balsamic glaze drizzle...and eat it. All of it. After all, a salad is so much more justifiable than a bacon-covered pizza, isn't it?!

So I did. 

Our bougie apartment complex's outdoor kitchen is not completed yet, so I oven-roasted fresh sweet corn using this recipe. You guys, I had an intense, visceral moment of homesickness shucking the corn over our kitchen trash can...almost an out-of-body flashback to peeling corn on the back patio at our cabin as a teenager, with the concrete burning my feet and the sound of the lake in the background. There's something about sweet corn that immediately takes me back to Spicer, where, I shit you not, we'd occasionally get into debates with family and friends about which farmers had the best, freshest, sweetest corn at any given point in time. I genuinely almost cried when I took the corn out of the oven, with the charred kernels and that perfect roasty scent. SO GOOD. SO MINNESOTA.

Peaches, on the other hand? California all the way. I've never seen such enormous ones in my life (and now I'm feeling weird about that sentence because the peach emoji supposedly euphemistically references butts, HA.). The ones I picked up at our local Safeway for like, under a dollar were easily the sweetest peaches I've ever eaten. No buts/butts about it. 

Dave is a cherry tomato fiend, so I got heirloom cherry tomatoes (which I didn't even know were a thing before Thursday), and I was a bit enthusiastic with the mozzarella pearls (because extra cheese never hurt any recipe). I ended up using four pieces of bacon, thinking (rightly) that too much would overwhelm the more subtle flavors. It was the perfect umami addition, though!

After mixing the whole thing up, I served it with spinach on the side to augment it and sneak some green vegetables in...because I still need to work on the green vegetables thing, honestly. And we drizzled it all with the Gia Russa balsamic glaze, which was the perfect sweet counterpoint to the herby lemon dressing. 

I'm in love, basically, with a salad. 

I'm not going to subject you all to my admittedly sub-par food photography skills, but to Frankenstein this baby for yourself, follow La Crema's recipe, with bacon to your liking and a generous amount of spinach. Balsamic glaze optional but highly is a healthy pour of wine (yesterday, I went with Hanna's rosé!)...of course!