Most of my cooking tends to revolve around a hearty stew-style dish with some variety of grain or pasta to soak up the sauce, think curry and rice or tagine and couscous. Of course, with the relatively hot summer we’ve had this year (makes a change!) I had to adapt my default style of cooking to something less wintry.
Naturally, I took this as an opportunity to experiment with some flavour combinations in a salad, as well as play with my griddle pan – it’s my current favourite toy in the kitchen. For me, a perfect salad needs variety – different flavours, textures, colours and temperatures. Fruit in a savoury salad is a bit of favourite of mine – I like the contrasts of the soft, sweet fruit and crisp bitter leaves, plus all that juice means you don’t need much of a dressing.
After some thinking and some looking through the notebook where I scribble down ideas, I settled on a salad of grilled nectarines and soft ricotta cheese with some little gem lettuce leaves, as it’s what I had in the fridge. It worked really well, especially with a simple peppery dressing of Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I added some papaya seeds for some colour and an extra pepper kick but they didn’t really bring much to dish – poppy seeds would have been much nicer. I’ll be remembering this for next summer, or when I’m in need of a little sunshine in the months to come.
Ingredients (serves 1-2)
Grill the nectarine slices for about 30 seconds on each side – they just need to be warmed through and traversed with bar marks from the pan. Crumble the ricotta, and combine with the leaves, poppy seeds and nectarines. Pour over a small amount of a simple, mustardy salad dressing and serve while the fruit is still warm.