Watercress and Stone-Fruit Salad
Use whatever combination of stone fruit you’d like in this summer salad. Although you don’t need to heat the dressing, do give the fruit a quick sauté. That brief stint in a hot pan brings out the fruit’s flavor.
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts
- 6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups pitted and sliced stone fruit of choice, such as
plums, peaches, apricots or cherries, or preferably a
- 3 Tbs. Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 5 cups stemmed watercress, torn into bite-size sprigs
- 1/4 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese
In a small, dry fry pan over medium-low heat, toast the hazelnuts, stirring constantly, until they are fragrant and just beginning to brown where the skins have flaked off, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately pour the nuts onto a clean dish towel; they can burn quickly. Gather up the corners of the towel and rub the nuts together until most of the skins come off. (Don’t worry about the bits that stick.) Split the toasted nuts by applying pressure with your thumb and index finger until the halves separate. Set aside.
In a fry pan over medium heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the shallot and sauté until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Add the fruit and sauté for a few seconds, just enough to coat the pieces in the hot oil. Remove from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fruit and shallot to a plate and set aside to cool.
Place the same pan over medium-low heat (do not wipe out the pan). Whisk in the vinegar, mustard, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring, until the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining 5 Tbs. olive oil until smooth and emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Put the watercress in a large salad bowl. Add the cooled fruit and shallot and pour the warm vinaigrette over the salad. Toss to mix and coat well. Sprinkle with the cheese and hazelnuts and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
Fresh take: Here, the intense peppery flavor of watercress is the perfect foil for the fruit and warm vinaigrette. But if you prefer something more subtle, opt for a milder green, such as spinach or frisée.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Good Food to Share, by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan (Weldon Owen, 2010).