A gorgeously simple salad with the sweetness of grilled nectarines, the crunch of fresh arugula, and the creaminess of vegan cashew cream. Serve it as a side dish or for a light lunch.
One of the things I love about summer is all of the beautiful stone fruit. Peaches, apricots, and plums, they are all delicious, but nectarines are my favorite. As much as I love peaches, I don't like their tough skin, or having to peel them before devouring them. Nectarines seems to always have the right balance of slightly sweet fruit, thin crunchy skins, and a beautiful appetizing color.
Arugula Salad with Grilled Nectarines
This salad is one of my favorite ways to eat grilled nectarines. Lightly seared slivers of nectarine are paired with slightly bitter rocket (arugula) and watercress and drizzled with a dark and glistening drizzle of balsamic syrup. The finishing touch is a few dollops of cashew cream (if you can tolerate dairy a few chunks of mozzarella would work well), a smattering of basil leaves and a sprinkling of lightly toasted hazelnuts for a bit of crunch.
To grill the nectarines, you can certainly use your real grill. I have done this many times - just set your grill on a relatively low setting, oil the grates so the fruit doesn't stick, and grill for a few minutes with the cut side down. But if you want to stay inside in the air conditioning like me, you can also "grill" your nectarines on the stove top. I like to use a cast iron grill pan to get those pretty charred markings on my nectarines.
The balsamic syrup is key in this recipe - it really complements the nectarines so well. I absolutely love this balsamic syrup from Trader Joe's, but you can use any brand you like. If you have the time, you can also make your own just by cooking down a pot of balsamic vinegar until it thickens. Make sure to stir it the whole time to avoid burning. Warning - the smell will be strong!
The cashew cream is also very simple to make - it whips up quickly in the blender. If you are vegetarian, rather than vegan, you can feel free to substitute some fresh mozzarella for the cashew cream.
I hope you enjoy your grilled nectarines as much as I do! So simple, but so delicious.
Grilled Nectarines with Balsamic, Arugula, and Cashew Cream
- ⅓ cup cashews soaked for at least 2 hours
- ¼ cup water
- juice of half a lemon
- pinches a couple of of salt
- 3 nectarines you can also use peaches but remove their skin first
- 2 tsp flavour neutral oil
- 2 cups rocket arugula
- 2 cup watercress
- ¼ leaves basil large ones torn
- 2 tbs balsamic syrup
- 1 tbs toasted hazelnuts roughly chopped
- Begin by making the cashew cream. If using mozzarella you can skip this step. Place the drained cashews, ¼ cup water, lemon juice and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Place into a small serving jar and refrigerate.
- Place a small grill pan over a medium-low heat. Bring to the pan to temperature and lightly brush with the oil. Slice the nectarines. You can go with big chunky slices or slivers as I have. The choice is yours. Place half the nectarine slices in the pan and leave for a minute before flipping over. Cook for another minute before removing to a plate and repeating with the remaining nectarine.
- Toss the rocket (arugula), basil and watercress together in a serving bowl. Top with the grilled nectarines and drizzle the balsamic syrup over the top. Add a few dollops of the cashew cream (or mozzarella, if using) and finally the chopped hazelnuts. Serve immediately.