Saturday, December 12, 2009

Summer Sensation

I'm heading off to a BBQ this afternoon and when I asked my friend, the always delightful Jan-Jan (no, that's not her real name!) what I could bring, her request was this salad. It is probably the most popular salad I make and it always makes me think of Christmas, as I usually end up making it in December when the nectarines are in season. I have also served this dish as a beautiful summer entree and in a miniature form as a degustation course. It is very simple to put together and as well as tasting delicious, it looks lovely too.

This dish depends entirely on having good fresh ingredients - don't even consider making this dish if the nectarines are not great. This is a dish I only ever do at the height of the necatrine season when I know the flavour will be perfect. You can also substitute peaches if you like, and if watercress is tricky for you to buy where you live, then rocket is a good substitute. You want something a bit peppery to contrast with the sweetness of the nectarines and the saltiness of the proscuitto. Other forms of lettuces or greens with a milder flavour won't really do the dish justice, so it is really worth using either watercress or rocket.

This salad would be a really great addition to your Christmas table if you want something a bit out of the ordinary. It is fantastic served with chicken, turkey and all kinds of seafood.

You will need: For the salad 1 bunch watercress, 4 ripe nectarines sliced , 8 thin slices Prosciutto, 1/2 red (Spanish) onion sliced thinly, 1 lebanese cucumber (cut it lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and then slice to form half moon shapes), 2 Bocconcini (or a handful of baby bocconcini)
For the dressing 3 tablespoons each of extra virgin olive oil and maple syrup. Juice of half a lime, 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (if you can't find this you can substitute white wine vinegar but only use 1 1/2 tablespoons of it), generous dash of tabasco sauce, generous pinch of salt, plenty of freshly ground pepper, 1 clove crushed garlic.

Method: Combine all of the dressing ingredients and whisk together until it thickens (a fuss free way to make this is to throw it all into a jar and give it a good shake)
Arrange the watercress, then onion, cucumber, nectarine and bocconcini on a large, fairly flat serving platter. Tear up the prosciutto and arrange over the top of the salad. Just before serving, drzzle with the dressing.

Serves about 8 people.


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