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Nectarine season is nearly over. I have enjoyed this stone fruit this time round like never before, particularly the white-flesh variety. Nectarines are sort of like smooth-skin peaches, and are quite similar to peaches nutritionally and by way of use. They are a good source of vitamin C and dietary fibre. Yellow-flesh nectarines have more beta-carotene, but both varieties also have potassium and some vitamin E.
You can cut up nectarines for use in a fruit salad or a smoothie. Or you can cook them: you can bake nectarines (halve, sprinkle with honey and cinnamon and cook until tender in a hot oven, cut side up), or grill them (brushed with fruit juices or an appropriate alcoholic beverage), or poach them (in wine or fruit juice).
My favourite way in recent weeks has been to use nectarines in salad. White-flesh nectarines are lower in acid than the yellow-flesh version, and their subtle sweetness adds a wonderful flavour to salads, offsetting beautifully the saltier ingredients.
2 nectarines, pitted and chopped
1 tbsp brown sugar (adjust to sweetness of nectarines)
1 cup vanilla yogurt
Blend together until smooth.
1 nectarine, thinly sliced
50 g rocket leaves
2 red radishes, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
Toast almonds in a dry frying pan and cool.
Put rocket leaves and radish in a deep bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over. Gently toss, and then lay out on a platter.
Throw nectarines, almonds and shaved parmesan over greens.
3 medium nectarines, diced
1/4 cup red capsicum, diced
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic, crushed
2 tsp orange juice
1 tsp honey
Fresh coriander, chopped
Salt, pepper and red chilli powder or chilli flakes to taste
Toss all ingredients together in a deep bowl. Serve over grilled chicken breasts. Also great as a dip for chips.
Nectarines with Ham
2 cups nectarine slices
1 ½ cups cooked ham, cut into juliennes
3 cups baby spinach leaves
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp ground ginger
Salt to taste
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, ginger and salt in salad bowl. Add ham, fruit and spinach and toss gently.
Nectarine and Avocado Salad
¾ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp white pepper
4 medium nectarines, stoned and sliced
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced
1 packet salad greens of choice
Chopped fresh chives
Whisk together yogurt, sugar and pepper.
Arrange salad leaves on platter and throw nectarines and avocados over. Spoon yogurt dressing over, and top with chives.
6-7 medium nectarines
1 cup walnuts
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp diced crystallized ginger
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
Stone and dice nectarines. Put into deep bowl, add all other ingredients and toss gently. Cling wrap and refrigerate at least three hours before use.
Nectarines with ice cream
1/3 cup sherry (or use grape juice and peach juice)
½ tsp cinnamon powder
2 tbsp butter
Peel, stone and cut nectarines into quarters. Marinate in the sherry and cinnamon powder about 30 minutes. Heat butter in pan and fry on high heat until gently charred. Serve hot or chilled with a good quality vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle crushed macadamia nuts on top to make it fancy.
6 ripe nectarines
25 gms pistachio nuts, blanched and chopped
75 gms unsalted butter, softened
Halve and stone nectarines. Tear out a large piece of alfoil and spread some butter in the centre. Pile all the fruit in and wrap up alfoil securely by folding in edges. Make sure there are no gaps. Place on a hot barbecue and cook for about 15 minutes. When done, open the package onto a platter and carefully pour out the juices. Sprinkle with pistachios, and serve with a good quality vanilla ice cream, yogurt or ricotta sweetened with honey.
You can add a dash of alcohol (rum or sherry) if you like – sprinkle on top of the fruit before wrapping up in foil.
Nectarine Cheeks with Ricotta
2 tbsp honey
200 gms fresh low-fat ricotta
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
Cut cheeks out of the nectarines. Line a baking tray with foil and place the nectarines, cut-side up, on prepared tray. Brush with honey. Grill under a hot grill for 5-8 minutes or until light golden and warmed through.
Combine ricotta and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix until smooth.
Place grilled nectarine cheeks on individual plates and spoon some of the ricotta over. Drizzle with extra honey (and nuts of choice if you like) on top.
(You can also grill nectarines by simply halving and stoning, then putting into the cavity butter, brown sugar and juice or alcohol, and placing under a hot grill).