I once ate a peach while sitting on a bollard in the Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples. I had bought it half an hour beforehand from a fruit stand at the top of one of the city’s funiculars, where it was handed over without ceremony in a paper bag. It turned out to be a peach of a peach, its white flesh sweet, chin-wipingly juicy and headily perfumed. It is the peach against which I now measure all others.
This week’s recipe pays homage to that moment. It’s really more an assembly job than a recipe and calls for truly ripe peaches and milkily fresh mozzarella. I have made it very successfully with some of the excellent British-made mozzarella that is now available. Burrata, with its oozing creamy middle, would make a good substitute.
Serves 2 as a light supper; 4 as a starter:
6 ripe, juicy peaches, white or yellow
250g mozzarella, preferably di bufala
A handful of fresh mint leaves
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
Fruity extra virgin olive oil
Using your hands – over a bowl to catch any juices – tear the peaches into quarters. They may not twist cleanly off the stone, but don’t worry. Charming rusticity is the look you are going for here.
Put the peach pieces in the bowl and add good squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt flakes as a counterpoint to the sweet peaches and toss gently together.
Arrange the peaches on your plates. Tear the mozzarella into bite-size pieces and dot them between the pieces of peach.
Spoon over a little of the juice from the bowl, then tear a few mint leaves over each plate. Splash with a trickle of olive oil, grind over a little black pepper and add more salt flakes, if you want, before serving.
Lucas Hollweg is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and cook. A former Sunday Times journalist and cookery columnist, he writes for a wide range of food publications. His most recent book is Good Things to Eat.
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