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by Andrea Howe

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble, where she writes the popular health food column, titled Gwyneth Made Me Do It.

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  • Photo: Andrea Howe
  • After having spent a humidity-filled weekend in New Orleans, I came home with a newfound respect for our milder Southern California temperatures. While it typically doesn't get truly hot here until August, it's still warm enough to make spending any sort of extended time in a hot kitchen a depressing affair.

    No matter how high the mercury spikes in your part of the country, we can all agree that summer meals should be carefree, easy, and, above all else, cooling. That's why my favorite summer meals are a mix of heavy and light appetizers that don't require turning on the oven.

    This is the type of spread I typically offer my family at least once or twice a week during summer; some fruit and veggies, a cured meat of some type, cheese and crackers, and maybe a light salad. We sit outside under the shade and graze, or put on a movie for the kids and my husband and I enjoy the air conditioned house and chat while we all nibble. Easy to prep and clean, a wide assortment of goodies ensures that everyone will find something they enjoy. 
  • Photo: Andrea Howe
  • Recently, I made a burrata and peach salad to act as the star of our spread, and it didn't disappoint. A mix of savory and sweet, the creaminess of the burrata perfectly balanced out the assortment of crisp flavors.

    If you're not familiar with burrata, it's a type of mozzarella, with its distinguishing factor being the creamy center that sort of bursts open when you cut into it. During cooler months I roast some tomatoes and plop burrata on top to melt and get even creamier. But during summer you don't need to do anything but pull it out of its container and enjoy. Burrata can be tough to find at local grocery stoires, but it's definitely worth a special trip to a local cheese shop or a specialty foods store! I promise you won't mind the extra running around, it's that delicious. If you can't seem to track down burrata, a regular ball of mozzarella would work well, too. 
  • Photo: Andrea Howe

    Burrata and Peach Salad

    Serves 4, appetizer portions

    1 ball of burrata cheese
    1 ounce baby arugula
    1/2 ounce micro greens
    3/4 cup (about 10 small) cherry or petite heirloom tomatoes cut in halves
    1 medium yellow peach diced into 1 inch segments
    Leaves of 1 sprig of mint
    1/2 ounce of diced red onion

    1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    1 1/2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
    1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    Juice of 1/2 lemon

    Combine onion, peaches, tomatoes, and mint in a bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients and then toss to coat peach and tomato mix. (This ensures all of the heavier fruit and veggies get coated and delicate greens won't wilt.) Add in the arugula and micro greens, toss completely. Plate salad and top with burrata. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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