Grilled nectarine and herbed goat’s cheese salad

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Sweet, smokey nectarines play perfect counterpoint to salty goats milk feta. Tumbled on a bed of basil, mint and greens, cloaked in a dressing sweet and sharp, this is a perfect summer salad.

It’s not the first time I’ve been seduced by stone fruits on the barbeque, last year it was peaches and blue cheese, this summer it’s nectarines and feta.

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I’ve made this salad a couple of times, once with the delicate fresh goats cheese in the picture which although subtle made a great sauce on a grilled steak.

The second time I served it as a standalone course on small plates as part of a tapas-style barbeque. So I used the more flavoursome Ornelle goats milk feta which gave the salad flavours complex enough to stand alone. I think it was better.

Use a smooth, creamy Danish-style feta rather than the more crumbly Greek-style. My feta post explains the differences.
Fantastic feta – why so many choices?

This recipe is care of Cuisine magazine, and whilst the dressing needs time to cool it’s worth the effort as it binds the salad with a sweet, citrusy heat, just right for the long nights of summer.

Pair with a Viognier, a dry Reisling or a Saison, pilsner or a herbaceous wheat beer.

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Nectarine and herbed goat’s cheese salad
125ml (1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
115g (1/4 cup) sugar
4 large, mild chillies deseeded, thinly sliced, or 2 dried chillies deseeded
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
75ml extra virgin olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons extra
200 g creamy goat’s feta (both Cuisine and I used Ornelle’s)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
6 nectarines, halved and stoned
75g wild rocket
1 spring onion – optional but good if you can’t get rocket

Put vinegar, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Boil 5 minutes. Add dried chillis if using and cool. If using fresh chillis add when the dressing is cool. Let stand for at least an hour. Drain discarding dried chillis, or reserving the fresh chillis.

Put herbs and lemon zest in a bowl, stir in 75ml olive oil. Cut feta into 20 even pieces then use damp hands to squeeze and roll each piece into balls. Add to the herb mix, rolling it round to cover and set aside to marinate.

Whisk together the lemon and lime juice with 1 tablespoon of the reserved chilli liquid and the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil. Season with salt, this is the dressing.

When ready to serve, heat a barbeque or grill plate to hot. Brush nectarine halves with a little of the reserved chilli liquid and drizzle with a little oil. Cook for about a minute each side or until lightly charred. Cool a little.

Arrange rocket, spring onions, and nectarines on a platter or individual plates. Top with the feta, and strips of fresh chilli if using, and drizzle with the dressing.

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