Bring on summer in all its beautiful glory! Life always feels so much more colorful during the summer months – sort of like the iconic scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy emerges from her sepia-hued Kansas landscape to the wonderful world of color in Munchkinland. After a very rainy spring, this summer in particular feels like Munchkinland in all its wonderfully vibrant color.
The sunshine feels brighter, the grass greener, the flowers awash in color. Everything simply came alive once the rains cleared.
Our farm market is alive with color. Crimson-hued baby strawberries, vibrant green lettuces in every shade, leafy bright green basil, rainbow colored chard, pink and yellow tinged peaches. I marvel at the magic of Mother Nature each and every summer. Pure heaven.
The lure of the aroma of the juicy peaches at the market is always too much to bear so I am forced to carry home sackfuls of the beauties. But then it is time to get creative before these fuzzy treasures turn to mush. The task at hand is welcomed, as their sweet refreshing juiciness is a welcome diversion from the summer heat.
First up – an incredibly simple Italian-inspired salad that keeps me out of the kitchen so I can spend more time outdoors sipping that prosecco under the pergola. The salad is inspired by the classic Italian combination of fruit and prosciutto. Grill up some peaches; tear up some prosciutto and fresh mozzarella balls; toss over some baby greens with fresh basil tossed in and top it all with shallot red wine vinaigrette. Add whatever your heart desires – perhaps some cherry tomatoes or fresh leftover grilled corn or maybe some toasted hazelnuts. If you are incredibly inspired, you could whip up some fresh ricotta instead of the mozzarella. Boom.
Next up – a frosty refreshing treat to take the edge off the heat. Who doesn’t need more granita in their life during summer? Here peaches meet up with some summer strawberries in this easy treat. (Hint: You can also add white wine to the mixture to spark things up!) You even get to stick your head in the freezer every hour to cool you down while you scrape your granita.
Summer living doesn’t get easier than this. Whirl, pour, scrape, freeze, eat.
So go forth and summer! Buon appetito!
GRILLED PEACH, PROSCIUTTO AND MOZZARELLA SALAD
For the vinaigrette:
•1 large clove garlic, finely diced
•1 small shallot, finely diced
•⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
•3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
•Freshly ground black pepper
•For the salad:
•Extra virgin olive oil
•⅓ pound prosciutto, sliced thin
•2 medium or 1 large ball fresh mozzarella
Make the vinaigrette: Combine the garlic, shallot, olive oil and vinegar in a glass jar. Shake to combine. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust to your liking – add additional oil or vinegar if needed.
Make the salad:
Squeeze the lemon into a medium bowl filled with cold water. Cut the peaches into slices and add to the lemon water. (This will keep them from turning brown.) Allow to soak for about 10 minutes. Remove from the water and dry the slices.
Fire up the grill and rub the peach slices with a bit of olive oil. Grill the peach slices until grill marks develop, just a few minutes each side. Remove from the grill.
On a large platter, arrange the baby greens. Tear up a few leaves of fresh basil and add. Arrange the peach slices on top. Tear up the prosciutto and fresh mozzarella and add to the salad.
Just before serving, drizzle with the vinaigrette. Buon appetito!
SUMMER PEACH-STRAWBERRY GRANITA
5 peaches (about 1 ½ pounds)
½ pound strawberries
¼ cup sugar, plus more if you like it sweeter
½ cup water
Juice of ½ lemon
Pinch of coarse salt
Peel, pit and chop the peaches into large pieces. Clean and quarter the strawberries.
In a food processor or blender, puree together the peaches, strawberries, sugar, water, lemon juice and a few pinches of coarse salt. Taste; add more sugar to taste.
Transfer mixture to a baking sheet. Place baking sheet in freezer, uncovered. Freeze for 2 ½ hours; scraping with a fork every hour.
To serve, scrape the frozen mixture one last time to create a fluffy and icy mixture. Transfer to bowls and serve!
Joe and Michele Becci are a brother and sister team who love all things Italian. Together, from opposite coasts, they co-author the blog www.OurItalianTable.com.