Ottolenghi recently wrote an article for the New Yorker called Ottolenghi’s Simplest Recipes. It’s a funny, tongue in cheek article about his recipes and the way that people complain about the complexity and number of ingredients. And about the way that they change all the ingredients and then make commentary on them.
I am certainly guilty of the first, and have gotten over the second – mostly. I still sigh if I have to go shopping for a dish when I want to make it right now and there is some ingredient my pantry is not stocking atm. Having cooked a significant number of Ottolenghi’s dishes, I have moved on from strict adherence to his dishes to shaking them up to suit what is cheaper in our part of the world, what is in the pantry or fridge or on the kitchen bench, and what I can pick from the garden.
This recipe had its genesis in Ottolenghi’s first book Ottolenghi. But it is not recognisable as his any more. I’ve removed the non-vegetarian item, and used greens from our garden rather than the expensive (in my area) greens that he uses. I am ticking the recipe off in the book, but really only the dressing (fabulous) and the peaches are recognisable in the original. If you are looking for the original, check his books or his Guardian column.
The key here is to use sweet peaches (yellow-fleshed or a mix of yellow and white) that are at their peak, with none of that floury texture that they can have when unripe. It’s a dish that’s dazzling in its blend of colours and textures, and works well as a starter.
Garden Salad with Peaches and Orange Blossom Dressing
5 peaches, halved and cored
1 Tblspn olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
approx 250g of mixed greens – baby chard, baby spinach, watercress, young beet leaves, baby amaranth leaves, soft herbs, purslane, etc or use what you have at hand. Add endive if it is available to you.
45ml olive oil
3 Tblspn orange blossom water
1 Tblspn good quality balsamic vinegar
1 Tblspn maple syrup or 0.5 Tblspn palm sugar
pinch of both sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slice each peach half into 3 wedges.
If char grilling them (optional but adds depth of flavour), put a ridged griddle pan over a high flame to get good and hot – this will take around 3 – 5 minutes.. Place the peach wedges in a bowl and add the olive oil, making sure each wedge is coated. Season them with salt and pepper.
When the griddle is hot, place the wedges on the pan and grill for a minute on each side – you’re aiming for them to develop nice charcoal lines. When they’re done, remove the peaches from the pan and allow to cool.
To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. On a serving platter, arrange the peach slices and greens, then spoon over enough dressing to coat but not drench.
recipe notes and alternatives
Replace the peaches with slices of pears in Autumn. Slice them just before serving so that they don’t brown.