Luscious fruits are the essence of summer. Peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums and melons are the basis for many traditional desserts. But they can also be fashioned into refreshing savoury salads especially those with Asian-inspired dressings containing lime juice, root ginger, mint and coriander.
Purées prepared from the seasonal fruits are excellent drizzled over desserts, stirred into yoghurt or combined in sorbets and ice creams. They are also a staple for savoury sauces and dressings.
Their vibrant summer colours on a plate complement grills, steamed fish and roasted poultry. Just add a little oil and a dash of sugar and spice. Or add to vinaigrettes to dress salad greens.
For successful purées, choose ripe — even slightly overripe — fruit, and varieties that are easy to prepare. Cherries take too much pitting, blueberries and strawberries need to be strained to remove the seeds but ripe stone fruits or rock melons are perfect. Generally, about 500grams of prepared fruit will provide one cup of purée. If the fruit tends to discolour add a pinch of vitamin C powder.
The puréeing itself only takes a few minutes in a blender and for best colour and flavour, use as soon as possible.
PEACH & SAFFRON CHUTNEY
Choose freestone peaches, if possible.
3cm knob root ginger, peeled and grated
2 shallots, diced
1 red chilli, seeded and diced
700g ripe peaches, stoned, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
3/4 cup white vinegar
Place all the ingredients — except for the vinegar — in a heavy-based saucepan. Stir well and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the vinegar and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, until thickened.
Pour into sterilised jars and seal. Makes about 3 cups
SUMMER FRUIT SALAD WITH THAI DRESSING
Add cooked chicken, pork or smoked salmon, if preferred.
Thai Dressing: 1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon each: grated root ginger, fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 teaspoons each: brown sugar, diced chilli
Salad: 3 nectarines, stoned and sliced
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup each: mung bean sprouts, cubed rock or watermelon
1 small red chilli, seeded and sliced
2 spring onions, diagonally sliced
1 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup each: roughly chopped coriander, mint.
Whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl.
Place the nectarines in a salad bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice to prevent browning. Add the other salad ingredients and carefully mix. Drizzle with the dressing just before serving. Serves 2.
OVEN-ROASTED SAVOURY PLUMS
Delicious served with grills or cold meats.
8 plums, halved and stoned
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
1 star anise
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly oil a shallow baking dish.
Place the plums — cut-side up — in the dish. Combine the remaining ingredients and drizzle over the plums.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the plums are hot and the sauce is bubbling. Serves 4.