Sublime Nectarine & Berry Compote
"Now you see them...now you don't." I can think of no better way to describe illusive, summer fruit. While dreary apples, oranges and pears hang around for months like boring dinner guests who show no inclination of going home, plump apricots, luscious cherries, and blushing, fresh figs are available for what feels like mere days. At least summer nectarines, watermelons and grapes have the good grace to stick around for awhile, and offer a host of culinary opportunities. Of these three options, nectarines are my favorite, as they're wonderful when paired with fresh basil and added to a salad. They are delicious served as a refreshing salsa with Cajun chicken, perfectly complement soft feta with chili and mint, can be used in a fruit crumble in place of apples, and are simply sublime when gently poached with berries. I've chosen to share my favorite poached nectarine recipe with you today with future inspiration to follow. Summer just got a whole lot sweeter.
1/3 cup sugar (or less if preferred)
1 cinnamon stick or star anise
Strip of lemon peel
2 cups frozen raspberries or mixed berries
Mint leaves, optional
Cut nectarines into quarters and place into a medium sized pot. Sprinkle sugar over the top, then add cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
Add a splash of water and heat to dissolve sugar. Turn down heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes with the lid on. At this stage the nectarine should be cooked through and tender, but not falling apart.
Take pot off of heat and stir in berries and mint. Allow to cool.
Serve over ice cream, meringues, scones, waffles, pancakes or anything else that appeals. Also delicious by itself as a light summery dessert.
I always use golden nectarines (not their paler white siblings) as they are sweeter and much more flavorful. These are available now but, typically, won't be around for long. Plums may be sliced and added too.
Fresh, pitted cherries may be used in place of berries (you can pit them easily using a straw), but these should be poached together with the nectarines to soften.
Leftover fruit can be blended to make a wonderfully fruity coulis, which can be stored for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, and added to smoothies, stirred into yogurt or spooned over ice cream for a fresh summery taste.
Find superior quality frozen berries at Meatland for just 14.90 per pack.