The Italian classic insalata caprese, pairing ripe tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, represents the red-white-and-green of Italy’s flag. It is also the iconic portrait of summer and leisure. Why not present another summer classic: the pink-and-golden glow of a summer sky at sunset. Change up the recipe up with juicy nectarines and a cinnamon spiced balsamic vinegar reduction. The reduction sweetens the fruit, intensifying the flavors. Present it as a salad or dessert. You choose. It’s summertime, when life is supposed to be easy.
Nectarine Caprese Salad Recipe
4 firm ripe nectarines, sliced into three pieces each, reserving remainder for another use
Note: Nectarines are tricky little devils, and don’t slice and separate from the pit as easily as say, a peach. For this recipe, I recommend forgoing battle with your fruit, and slice from the sides, leaving pit intact. Save remaining fruit flesh for a purpose requiring less presentation.
12 1/4 inch thick slices fresh mozzarella
8 medium fresh basil leaves, plus leaves for garnish
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 T agave nectar
1/8 tsp each cinnamon and ground cloves
On four plates, carefully stack nectarine slices, mozzarella, and basil leaves, beginning with a nectarine as the base, ending with the cheese.
In a small saucepan, heat vinegar and agave nectar over low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Bring mixture to boil and reduce by half, continuing to stir for about 3-4 minutes, until spoon leaves a trail in the sauce. Remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon and ground cloves, incorporating completely.
Drizzle sauce over nectarine caprese salad and garnish with basil leaf.
Wine educator Stephanie Davis from Winacea found a very special bottle from Rolly Gassmann that flows beautifully with luscious stone fruits such as nectarines, peaches, and apricots. Priced at about $30/bottle, this French wine from Alsace is made with Auxerrois grapes. Stephanie believes it will become one of your favorites. If you can’t find a bottle, try an Alsacian Riesling instead.
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Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, because living brings its own humor, angst and heroism. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @where she hopes you’ll find illumination of the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Vodka and recipes optional.