July 27, 2012
The sun is shining and the living is easy (just as long as you don’t turn the news on that is) yes folks, it’s summer. Or at least today it is. The soft fruit season is in full swing and you can’t move for berries, all kinds of plums, water melons, peaches and late season apricots. They should be long gone but this year’s apricots are still around and seem to be all the better for their tardiness. Lee’s been lapping them up with baby rice and everyone else has just been eating them on a smash and grab basis although some (I’m looking at you Auggie) don’t realise that the stones don’t just go anywhere when you’re finished but you know these days in the grand scheme of summertime chaos a few apricot stones mixed in with the lego or down the sofa is small potatoes. Yes, I’m new to this 3 kids business but catching on/giving up fast .
When I’m not wondering how I’m going to survive the next 20 years, I’ve been playing around with all this apricot booty on the griddle pan applying a what’s good for peaches logic to them and it works. A light coating of olive oil first is all that’s needed and for this I find hands work best. The cooking process softens them up, carmelizing them on the outside and making the flesh lovely and jammy (overdo it and you’ll get mush so don’t leave them on too long – I find 2 mins is enough) and you get those fab go faster stripes. Ok so I know that this isn’t an end in itself but it’s a major plus in my book…….. After that your options are both sweet and savoury. Serve them with vanilla ice-cream and a few sprigs of basil (in thanks to Denis Healy this week – use asap!!!) and a drizzle of maple syrup for a seasonal dessert tonight. A glass of Sauternes would make this really special….
On the savoury side try a salad with some of Denis’ lovely lettuce, mozzarella and a lemoney basil oil. A dish that’s as gorgeous as it looks. Summer on a plate……..
A salad of griddled apricots, fresh mozzeralla, toasted pinenuts with a basil and lemon oil
Half a head lettuce carefully washed and torn into largish pieces
1 ball fresh mozzarella
8 ripe apricots
1 tablespoon pinenuts
The basil oil
A handful of basil leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil
pinch Maldon sea salt
1 tablespoon pinenuts
About 2 tablespoons lemon juice
First of all, toast all the pinenuts (2 tablespoons). Make the basil oil – wash and dry the basil leaves removing any tough stalks. Blend until smoothish with the oil, a generous pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon pinenuts. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice to taste then set aside.
Begin heating a heavy griddle pan. Spread some olive oil on a plate.
Cut the apricots in half, place them face down on the oil and flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand. transfer to the hot pan and griddle for about 2 minutes each.
Turn them over for about 1 minute before removing them from the pan.
To put the salad together, toss the leaves with a little olive oil and balsamic and lay out on large plate. Drizzle the basil oil on top then slice the mozzarella and arrange this and the apricots . Finally, scatter the pinenuts over everything and retire to a sunny spot to enjoy your lunch.
Have a brilliant weekend,