There is nothing like height of the season fruit. Summer brings two that, combined with a few other perfect ingredients, create a true delight, worthy of your favorite 'fine dining' restaurant. Make it at home and you will want to enjoy it year after year. For perfect results, make sure to use only the freshest, perfectly ripe fruit (yes, tomatoes are fruit).
This is our rendition of a recipe in the excellent "My favorite ingredients" by Skye Gyngell. Serves 2.
Seasonal Sensation: Nectarine, Tomatoes, Prosciutto and Buffalo Mozzarella with Basil Oil
2 best of the season nectarines
16 - 20 cherry tomatoes
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp high quality extra virgin olive oil + a little more for drizzling
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
4 oz. buffalo mozzarella (cow's milk fresh mozzarella is an acceptable substitute but won't be quite as exceptional)
Basil leaves (6 to 8, give or take, depending on size) shredded
Approximately 2 to 3 oz thin sliced prosciutto
2 - 4 tbsp basil oil, more or less as desired.
Aged balsamic vinegar
Cut the tomatoes in half. Cut the nectarines in half, removing the pits, and then slice into thin wedges. Combine the fruits in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and carefully mix together, taking care not to break up the fruit.
Your mozzarella may come in a large ball or in smaller balls. If just one large ball, tear it in half. If smaller balls, divide it all into two servings and place on individual plates.
Divide the fruit mixture in half.
The following instructions are more art than science; use your eyes and best judgment on how you create the dish. For your first serving use half of the fruit mixture, portioned out so that you make layers, piled up against the cheese, of fruit, shredded basil, and small to medium pieces of prosciutto. You may use a tiny bit of salt with each layer if desired, to taste. Also, put a little basil oil between the layers. The amount of prosciutto you use depends a lot on the thinness of the meat and how it is cut. Drizzle a little of the olive oil on the plate around your creation and a little more over the top of it. Finish with a very light sprinkling of the balsamic vinegar. Repeat the process for your second serving.
Serve with your favorite bread, grilled or lightly broiled and brushed with olive oil.
WINE SUGGESTION: A light zinfandel, or chilled rose, or sparkling wine would be nice.
The easiest way to make basil oil is with a food processor. Take a bunch of basil. Add a peeled clove or two of garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Process, then very slowly add olive oil to the running processor, combining until you have a nicely mixed, somewhat thick but pourable mixture. How much oil depends on the the amount of basil and it might be as little as 1/4 cup or as much, give or take, as 3/4 cup. You might prefer more oil which makes it more runny or you might prefer less oil which makes it quite thick (and possibly, unless you have a very small food processor, almost impossible to blend together).
Odds are, you don't NEED that much basil oil for a dish, and certainly not for our nectarine dish.
What we used was a small to medium mortar and pestle. Mash the garlic with some kosher salt. Add some freshly ground black pepper and a small handful of basil, and mash some more. Then start adding a little oil at a time until you get the consistency and amount desired.