A serious heat wave is currently ruling the Cape. Over the last few days in Stellenbosch the mercury has risen to 40 degrees Celsius. On days like these it is impossible to eat hot food, so it’s the perfect inspiration for cold salads using delicious seasonal fruit.
My favorite childhood memories of summer-fruit come from our vacations on Keurboomstrand. There is an unbeatable farm stall just outside Keurbooms called Thyme & Again, on the N2 approximately 15 minutes from Plettenberg Bay. This farm stall is always packed with incredible seasonal summer fruit: watermelon, sweet melon, grapes and the best export quality nectarines. It was the kind you could only eat over the kitchen sink, or perhaps over the edge of the wooden porch while overlooking the sea, the sweet juices running over your hands.
Here in Stellenbosch I now buy my vegetables at Blue Jay Farm Stall on the R44 just outside town. It’s a very small shop with a walk-in cool room, filled with shelves after shelves of delicious seasonal fruit and a huge fridge full of freshly squeezed, organic, seasonal fruit juice. They also grow small quantities of organic vegetables in their front garden. Best of all: Blue Jay’s prices are superb.
This week I bought a large box of nectarines from Blue Jay. It’s the perfect food to eat on sweltering summer days in Stellenbosch. Instead of a fresh fruit salad, I decided instead to grill the nectarines for a few minutes with honey and black pepper, and arrange them with cold slices of roasted chicken, Danish feta cubes, rocket leaves, roasted peanuts and a honey mustard dressing. It’s sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy and spicy – all at the same time.
Note: In the 40 degree heat of the day, the rocket began to wilt immediately when I started taking pictures, so I would imagine it in the refrigerator until the last-minute before serving.
Tip: I love the soft texture and sweet taste that nectarines get when roasted. The results are best when grilled on an open fire, but on hot days the last thing you want to do is to stand in front of a hot fire. Alternatively you can ignore the grilling and just cut the fruit into slices, serving it cool and fresh!
Ingredients for salad: (adjust the quantities as you like)
• rocket leaves (baby spinach leaves will also work well)
• cold roasted chicken breasts, sliced (I buy it ready-roasted)
• Danish feta cheese
• fresh nectarines, sliced
• honey and freshly ground black pepper
• roasted peanuts (chopped or whole)
Ingredients for the dressing:
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• 3 tablespoons of “cold-pressed extra virgin” olive oil
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
• 1 teaspoon honey
1. Preheat your oven’s grill. Arrange the skinny peach slices on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little honey and sprinkle with black pepper and roast for about 5 minutes or until lightly colored. Allow to cool (otherwise they will wilt the rocket leaves instantly).
2. Arrange the rocket, chicken, feta, roasted peaches and peanuts on a large, flat salad platter.
3. Whisk all the ingredients for the sauce and pour over the salad. Serve immediately, preferably, or keep the salad cold in the refrigerator until just before serving.
This recipe will be featured live on RSG, 100-104fm, on Thursday morning 19 January 2012 between 9 and 10 am, with Nina Timm www.my-easy-cooking.com .