Valerie Aikman-Smith likes to make this refreshing version of the classic Italian salad at the height of summer, "when everyone is sick of tomatoes." If your plates aren't white, she says, start your layering with the mozzarella--its creamy paleness will look pretty against a color. Prep and Cook Time: 40 minutes. Notes: Use good peaches, and splurge on buffalo mozzarella if you can--it's creamier and tangier than cow's-milk mozzarella, and it really elevates this salad. (It's very perishable, though, so check the sell-by date and use it fast.) You can make the vinaigrette up to a week ahead; mozzarella, peaches, and herbs can be prepared the morning of the party and kept in the refrigerator (toss peaches with a bit of vinaigrette to prevent browning; drain cheese in a colander before plating).
1/2 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mild honey
4 balls mozzarella (8 oz. each, preferably buffalo's milk; see Notes)
4 large firm-ripe yellow or white peaches, rinsed but not peeled
10 to 12 sprigs fresh mint
10 to 12 sprigs fresh basil
Sea salt or coarse kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
How to Make It
In a dry (not nonstick) skillet, toast curry powder over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, a shade darker, and just starting to smoke, 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; let cool briefly. Whisk in olive oil, vinegar, and honey. Set aside.
Slice mozzarella into 1/2-in.-thick pieces and set aside. Peel peaches, cut in half lengthwise, and remove pits. Set each half flat on cutting board and slice into 1/2-in.-thick half-moons; set aside. Pluck mint and basil leaves from stems and set aside.
Set out 8 small plates or flattish bowls and build a loose tower of salad on each: Lay a couple of pieces of peach in center, top with a leaf or two of mint and basil, drape on a piece of mozzarella, or repeat layering 2 or 3 times. Top each stack with 2 peach slices and a sprig of mint. Drizzle with curry vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper, and scatter a few mint and basil leaves on each plate.