This interesting salad of grilled peach, ricotta and fennel is something of a surprise. It’s a wonderful combination of gently charred peaches, softened with fresh ricotta and balanced by crisp fresh cucumber and fennel. As we head into autumn, this salad is a great way to make use of the last of the beautiful summer peaches. Or if you’re lucky enough to be heading into spring, its the ideal dish to make to celebrate the warmer weather. Either way, add this beautiful salad to your table and you won’t be disappointed.
Sometimes a pretty little salad is just what you need to brighten your table. The sweet and earthy flavours in this salad match beautifully with grilled meat. I like to serve it alongside barbecued lamb in particular, but its also great with chicken, beef, or even on its own as a light meal.
To dress this pretty little salad, I simply drizzled the assembled salad with a tablespoon of basil oil. I didn’t want to overpower the delicate favours with a heavy dressing. The basil oil was perfect! You can use a basil infused olive oil or you can make your own basil flavoured oil. I had a lot of basil in the garden so this is how I made mine.
First, I put a small pot of water on the stove and brought it up to a rapid boil. While it was coming to a boil, I filled a bowl with water and one tray of ice-cubes and set it aside. Using tongs I plunged a large handful of basil leaves into the boiling water for 15 seconds, and then quickly removed them and put them straight into the iced water. After 30 seconds I drained the ice water and spread the blanched basil leaves on to a tea towel in a single layer. Then I carefully patted them dry before transferring them to a small blender with 1/4 cup of good quality oil. I blended them until the basil was very finely chopped and let it sit for 5 minutes before draining it through a fine sieve. The resulting flavour was rich with beautiful basil flavour.
It might seem like a fiddly process but blanching the basil first helps you get a nice, vibrant green result. If you don’t blanch the basil first, the resulting oil will be a dark, muddy green colour and not very appealing. Note: homemade herb oils don’t store well and can become unhealthy so if you don’t use it immediately, it’s best to discard any leftover oil.
- 2 peaches
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- ½ cucumber
- ¼ cup ricotta
- 1 fresh fennel fronds
- 1 tbsp basil oil to dress the salad
- Heat a barbecue grill or griddle pan over a medium heat.
- Cut the peaches into quarters, removing the stone. Brush the peach slices with the oil, and drizzle over the maple syrup. Sprinkle on the thyme and sea salt.
- Grill the peach slices for 3-4 minutes on each side, until lightly charred. Remove from the grill and set aside.
- Wash and drain or pat dry the spinach leaves. Set aside.
- Slice the cucumber finely either using the blade attachment of a spiraliser, or a vegetable peeler. Set aside.
- To assemble the salad, scatter the spinach leaves onto a serving platter and arrange the cucumber over the top. Place the grilled peaches around the platter, and crumble over the ricotta. Garnish with the fennel fronds. Drizzle with the basil oil (if using) right before serving.