I’m going to let you in on a secret: One of the best and most flavourful dishes that you’ll make all summer is so incredibly simple to put together that you can go from grocery store to artfully plated crowd-pleasing meal in just about the same amount of time that it would take you to throw a frozen pizza in the oven. This isn’t a precise, careful recipe. Amounts and measurements don’t matter – what does really matter is the quality of the ingredients you start with. There aren’t many of them, so each ingredient has to stand on its own and speak for itself. Here’s how you make the perfect summer supper:
Grilled peach and pesto salad
Wash and thoroughly dry a few handfuls of baby arugula and place them on a large plate or serving platter. Add a few strips of prosciutto di parma – not the vacuum-packed pre-packaged stuff that your grocery store sells in the refrigerator section, but the good stuff, straight from your favourite butcher. Trust me, you can taste the difference. Now slice a ball of mozzarella di buffala (the fresher, the better) into one centimetre thick slabs and arrange them around the plate.
While you’re arranging and slicing, heat a grill pan to medium-high heat (or use a barbecue, if you’ve got one). Slice a few perfectly-ripe peaches into quarters, give them a quick toss with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then throw them onto the grill pan until they’ve developed nice char marks – keep an eye on the peaches, because this will happen within a minute or two. Remove the peaches from the pan and distribute them over the salad.
Now you’ll want to whip up a simple pesto sauce to top the salad. In a food processor, blender, or even a mortar and pestle, combine a couple of handfuls of basil leaves with a generous glug of extra-virgin olive oil. Add a handful of pine nuts and a clove or two of garlic – roasted if you like a more mild pesto, raw if you want a bit of a kick – then top it off with some sea salt and black pepper before blending it up into a smooth mixture. Add generous spoonfuls of the pesto all over the salad.
Finally, finish off the salad with a light scattering of dried chilli flakes, toasted pine nuts, sea salt and black pepper. Enjoy – you can taste summer in every bite.