Arugula + summer fruit salad

DSCF2795

The first days of summer always seem to smell the sweetest. The sun burns a little brighter and no one seems to notice. But even the best seasons have their off-days and summer is no exception. You know the ones – where the air is thick, thunderstorms are in the air, and so hot that you would hide away in the fridge if you could.

For those hard dog days of summer where lifting a finger threatens to bring on another shower, this salad is a quick chop and toss (thankfully mostly toss!) away to remind you of summer’s best. If you’re in a pinch, add 3 tablespoons of rhubarb compote to dress your salad and forget the oil. After all, it’s summer and you make the rules.

  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup pea tendrils (optional)
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup strawberries, quartered
  • 1 peach, sliced
  • 1 cup Rainier cherries
  • 2 sprigs mint, julienned
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

Gently toss together the ingredients and dress at the last minute. Serves 2-4.

Peach vanilla panna cotta

PannaCottaOne of my favourite desserts is the classic Italian panna cotta. It’s a great dessert that’s light in texture and rich in flavour. I never feel heavy after eating it, making it my kind of dessert. The best part, it’s very easy to make and the prep time is fast. That said, it does require a longer time in the fridge for the gelatin to set, so if you’re making it to serve for dinner – it’s best to make it either the day before or early enough in the day for the dessert to set.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

Fruit jelly top:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 peaches (or other fruit – see below for portions), halved or sliced and pitted
  • 1 packet of gelatine powder (equivalent of 1 tablespoon)

Panna Cotta layer

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3-3/4 cream
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 packets of gelatin powder (equivalent of 2 tablespoons)

Preparation: 

  1. Heat up water and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add peach halves (or other fruit) and simmer on medium-low heat until the fruit is soft.
  3. Remove the peaches (or other fruit), remove the skins (keep the fruit water).
  4. Take 1/4 of the peach water and add the tablespoon of gelatin in gradually while stirring to avoid clumps. Set the gelatin mixture aside for about 5 minutes – it will thicken.
  5. Pour the gelatin mixture into the rest of the fruit water on low heat and mix until it’s dissolved.
  6. Grease a baking pan and place your peach halves or slices (or other fruit) into the bottom of the pan. I like using a silicone loaf pan. The silicone is flexible, making it incredibly easy to pop the panna cotta out of the pan once it’s set. If you’re using peaches, plums, or pears, place them cut side facing up (uncut side down on the pan) – it makes for a better looking panna cotta when you’re done.
  7. Pour the fruit water over it. Place the pan into the fridge for it to start setting.
  8. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of gelatin powder into the 1/3 cup of water gradually (so it also doesn’t clump) and set it aside for around 5 minutes to set.
  9. Heat up the cream and sugar on medium-low heat and bring it to a simmer. Add the vanilla extract and stir to mix it in.
  10. Add the gelatin-water mixture and stir until it’s all dissolved.
  11. Cool the mixture in the fridge for around 15-20 minutes or until it’s cooled to about room temperature.
  12. Check to make sure the first layer has set. When it has, pour the panna cotta mixture into your baking pan over the fruity layer.
  13. Put the pan back in the fridge to set. It will take around 6 hours to set fully.
  14. Once the panna cotta has set, it’s ready to serve. Tip your baking pan upside down on a serving dish. It should pop out fairly easily.

Note, if you prefer to use canned fruit instead of fresh fruit, use the syrupy water from the can and add water to it until it reaches 1 cup. No need for the 1/2 cup of sugar at the start of the recipe. Just set the fruit aside and pour the syrup-water mixture into a saucepan and let it simmer for 1 minute. Follow the rest of the recipe from step 4.

Enjoy!

Other fruit options:

  • 3 plums, halved or sliced and pitted
  • 2 apples, sliced and cored
  • 2 pears, halved or sliced and cored
  • 1/4 pineapple, sliced
  • 1/2 cup of raspberries
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 5-6 strawberries, halved or sliced

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay.