Last summer, it surprised me when I came across blog posts and recipes and conversations about not turning the oven on....due to the heat. I must admit I was perplexed, as I went on baking and steaming and cooking up a storm. Why would that bother people, I wondered in my kitchen in the Netherlands. See, I'm Nigerian where seasons don't exist and temperatures are almost always in the 30s (Celsius). A country where I'd baked all year round without thought nor care for 'rising temperatures'. Now I understand how in temperate climes, the changing weather governs what we eat, sleep and drink - cultural nuances I'd not noticed prior. And so this recipe is for the new 'knowledgeable me'. The one who understands that summer means light, fresh and stone fruit. The one who tries to make 'queso blanco' and has it fail, but who forges on regardless. The one who is looking forward to returning to Nigeria, when she can sweat her way through a cake bake in June. This recipe was inspired by a version in a Dutch supermarket magazine where nectarines, mozzarella and basil were combined. If you don't have pesto to hand, or can't be bothered....then make some basil salt, mix that with oil and use instead —Kitchen Butterfly
1 Nectarine, washed, cut in half and pit removed
1-2 heirloom tomatoes, depending on how large they are (optional)
125g 'good' ricotta cheese
1 -2 teaspoons microplaned lemon peel
Pesto, loosened with some olive oil to form a sauce
Slice the nectarines (and tomatoes if using) into 8 slices each and set aside. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta and the lemon zest together.
To assemble, set out two plates. Place some pesto on each plate, followed by a nectarine slice (and tomato), sprinkle some ricotta cheese over the top, drizzle some pesto and repeat till a 3-4 layer tower is constructed. Repeat on the second plate.
Garnish with the crushed pink peppercorns and the basil leaves and finish with a drizzle of pesto. Serve with a crisp white. Applaud the goodness of (God) and the summer. (And forget that my attempts at ricotta, sorry queso blanco failed - this wasn't ricotta from whey, but rather whole milk and so I dare not call it that!)