Summer has been busy with all the right things. Beach bonfires, grilled hamburgers, three week adventures across the pond, island excursions, attempting to establish a bit of a garden, sticky marshmallow coated fingers, red tinged sun kissed skin and very few hours in front of the computer or standing at the stove.
I always say this about whatever season we’re in; this is my favorite season to cook. Summer requires very little cooking, it’s more about the assembling. Which is perfect when you’d rather be reading a book or attempting not to fall off your new paddle board. Lately we’ve been eating big slices of melon in hues of oranges, reds and pinks with a flurry of vanilla salt dusted over top. To accompany whatever happens to be on the grill for the evening I’ve made a bean salad (last week alone I made it three times) with just a few cans of beans (in whatever varieties you prefer), a bit of celery and/or fennel for crunch, cherry tomatoes if you have them, a piquant vinaigrette with a hint of sweet and more handfuls of herbs than you think reasonable.
And for dessert the simplest of things; stone fruit (really any kind will do) with a bit of sugar or honey, soaked in red wine.
I’ve served, many times, fruit in white wine – sparkling or sweet but it wasn’t until our recent trip to Italy that I experienced fruit in red wine. I was delighted, down right giddy actually when one bite led to all of us at the table eating directly from the serving dish. We all marveled at the simplicity of two ingredients transforming into something entirely different; complex and decadent. This dish surpassed the one next to it – pears stuffed with quince jam and wrapped in puff pastry – that we had spent quite a bit of time making during our cooking class. The red wine soaked peaches (in this case) were a delightful surprise to the menu and coming home they keep showing up again and again.
My first go of it I overcomplicated what should be kept simple. There’s no need to simmer the wine with cinnamon stick and star anise with a bit of sugar – although you can do that. My preferred method now is to simply add a few pieces of what ever stone fruit you happen to have – nectarines, peaches, plums, cherries – sprinkle on a bit of sugar or drizzle of honey, top with wine (I’ve not met a variety that didn’t match the fruit and sugar nicely) then let it sit in the fridge for maybe 30 minutes if you’ve got that sort of time.
Serve it to start a meal or end one. If I’m feeling a bit of an over-achiever I may serve a plate of crisp Italian cookies like biscotti alongside. They are perfect for soaking up those last few sips of wine.
Stone Fruit in Red Wine
1 nectarine, peach (or a couple plums, handful of cherries), sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
There’s really no need for a recipe here, a method perhaps.
Tuck a few slices of stone fruit into a wine glass or coupe. Sprinkle on sugar or a drizzle of honey in its place.
Top with red wine. Enough to cover the fruit.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until the wine has soaked through the fruit. Less or more time is fine too.