Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook and TV series ‘ Jamie Cooks Italy’ has me in raptures. I’m obsessed with everything Italian, so watching Jamie and Genarro Contaldo cruising around all corners of Italy unearthing heritage recipes from local nonna’s is pure joy. It’s also available on YouTube which is very cool. In each episode, they visit a different region and cook with at least one nonna and introduce us to recipes we have never seen before and there is so much to learn. Just when you thought you knew Italian cuisine, this show blows that wide open. There are obviously loads of pizza, pasta and seafood dishes but many of the recipes are prepared in unexpected ways with the odd surprising ingredient. Jamie then sets out to make a few recipes of his own inspired by the people he has met and they are totally delicious sounding. I literally salivate each time I watch this show. They start out in Southern Italy, which is so far high up on my foodie bucket list having explored Northern Italy on three previous trips. This grilled nectarine salad with mozzarella, pink peppercorns and prosciutto is a slight adaptation to Jamie Oliver’s grilled apricot salad with flowering thyme because apricots are not in season, and I sadly had no flowering thyme. I can’t wait to make the original version at the beginning of next summer and I plan to do it on the fire too.
The book is the paper manifestation of all the recipes on the show and I’m planning on reading it properly once I’ve watched all the TV. I don’t want to see what’s coming up next.
The book has been exquisitely shot by the legend David Loftus (with a few pics by Jamie himself) and is true to his style. The images are rustic, vibrantly colourful with a massive amount of authentic styling. It’s a joy for the eyes in every way. I made this salad before I got the book and literally 2 days after seeing the episode. I picked up all the ingredients at my local farmers market – The Oranjezicht City Farm Market and nabbed mozzarella from Puglia cheese, prosciutto from Richard Bosman and the fruit from the fresh produce stand. When you prepare a dish with such high-quality ingredients you know you are in for something special. I discovered they gave me Burrata instead of Mozzarella when I got home which was probably a tad creamy for this salad, but who doesn’t love Burrata?
Enjoy this easy and delicious summer salad while I go off and dream about Italy and plot and plan when I can take my next trip. If you have any hidden gems and must-visit places in Southern Italy, please let me know.
Oh, and I got a little carried away with shooting the food here because the produce was so great but I’m still crushing so hard on my amazing Bianco Carrara Italian marble table top from WOMAG . It has transformed my kitchen and given me so much more workspace and of course created an incredibly beautiful surface to shoot on.
I subsequently bought the book and this is my slightly adapted version. Jamie Cooks Italy is published by Penguin Random House
Recipe – serves 4
- 8 ripe apricots or 3 – 4 ripe nectarines (depending on size)
- 8 sprigs of fresh thyme (flowering if you can find)
- olive oil
- 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 big pinch of pink peppercorns
- ½ red onion, finely sliced
- 2 large handfuls of salad leaves (I only used cos/romaine but a mixture including rocket would have been ideal)
- 4 slices of prosciutto ( I used about 6 slices)
- 125 gm ball of fresh Mozzarella / fior di latte
- 1 lemon
- Heat a griddle pan to hot and cut the fruit in half removing the stones. Toss the fruit on a platter with 1 tablespoon olive oil, half the thyme sprigs, and then fry the dressed fruit on the pan for about 6 minutes until charred and starting to caramelize. Turn the fruit halfway (they can also be cooked on a fire).
- While that is cooking, pour the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil onto a platter. Crush the pink peppercorns gently with your fingers and add this to the dressing along with the finely sliced red onions. Toss everything and allow them to marinate and pickle slightly, removing some of the abrasiveness.
- When the nectarines/apricots are ready, slice in quarters (nectarines) and build the salad. Toss the leaves through the onion and salad dressing and then tear the mozzarella into shards and distribute across the salad. Twirl the prosciutto ribbons around and add the grilled fruit along with some of the crispy cooked thyme. Add the rest of the thyme leaves, a light grating of lemon zest, a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of crisp dry white wine.
For a few more of my favourite Jamie Oliver recipes:
Jamie Oliver’s fantastic fish pie (literally THE only fish pue you will ever need, I promise).
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