Stone fruit has got to be one of the best things about summer. Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, and cherries, I love them all.
They bring back fond memories of my 6 months living in Barcelona. I’d get sackfuls of peaches from my local “mercat”, dirt cheap, and at weekends I’d often head to the great Boqueria market and explore the stalls with a paper bag of cherries in hand.
They usually just go straight from the fruit bowl to my mouth, but my Mum recently bought at least a dozen peaches and nectarines, knowing what a fruit fiend I am, enough that I felt I could allow a few to end up in an actual recipe.
Along with all this fresh fruit on my kitchen counter, my freezer is still stuffed with berries from last year’s extreme picking sessions! I’m planning on heading to the local farm to pick strawberries soon too but need to clear some space for the incoming fruit! I finished off the last of the raspberries in this recipe, but still have an abundance of blackberries to get through. We made a lot of blackberry and apple compote and crumble over the winter but those hot desserts aren’t seeming too appropriate in this unexpected heat wave we’re having right now.
Something fresh and light sounded just the ticket, and so this “Nectarine Salad with Blackberry Dressing, Basil & Hazelnuts” was born!
Blackberries were whizzed up with sweet balsamic vinegar to make a tangy dressing which I used to top a bed of just-picked salad greens from the garden, along with my nectarines, cut into slivers, and finally a smattering of whole berries, a generous handful of basil leaves and some toasted hazelnuts for crunch.
I was surprised at how intact the berries were even after defrosting. A little tip if you’re going berry-picking and want to freeze them without them sticking together in a giant ice block: spread them in an even layer on parchment paper lined baking trays and freeze like that. When they’re completely frozen you can just pour them into bags and then you can easily use the amount you want over the months to come.
This salad is really just a basic formula and I’m sure other fruits, herbs and nuts would make delicious combinations as well: Perhaps peaches or plums with raspberry dressing and toasted almonds? Or how about apricots, strawberry dressing, mint and pecans? Have fun experimenting!
- For the Salad:
- 2 Big handfuls salad greens
- 1 Nectarine, stone removed and fruit cut into thin slivers
- 2-3 Tbsp Blackberries
- 1/4 C Basil leaves
- 2 Tbsp Hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (for a completely raw salad just skip toasting step)
- Blackberry Dressing, a few tablespoons
- For the Blackberry Dressing:
- 1/3 C Blackberries, fresh or frozen and defrosted
- 2 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 Tbsp Agave nectar (optional- probably not necessary if you’re using sweeter berries like strawberries)
- 1 Tbsp Water
- Prepare the dressing first. Whiz listed ingredients up in a blender ( I use a Tribest personal blender), pour into a jar or bowl and refrigerate while you prepare the salad.
- To toast hazelnuts, lay on a baking try and place in a hot (350F/180C) oven for 5-10 minutes, until skins are blistered. Watch closely so they don’t burn. Tip onto a kitchen towel, wrap them up and rub vigorously to remove loose skins. Don’t worry if they don’t come off completely.
- Place a handful of salad greens on individual plates or in a large bowl, add a layer of nectarine slices and whole berries, scatter over the basil and toasted nuts and finish with a generous drizzle of the dressing.
- Serves 1 (or 2 starter-size salads)
What have you been making with the bounty of summer fruit recently? Do any whole foods bring back particular memories for you?