Summer fruits offer a variety of levels of sweetness from ripening sugars. In this dish, we capture two distinct but complementary flavors and textures and wrap them together in a spicy, sweet fruit syrup.
Serves 6 as a side dish or appetizer
For the nectarine syrup:
2 ½ cups very ripe nectarines (or white peaches), pitted and chopped
1 dried red chili pepper (or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper (preferably pink peppercorns)
For the timbale:
4 medium-firm, ripe heirloom tomatoes, seeded and diced to about ¼” (about 1 ½ cups)
2 cups nectarines, pitted and diced to about ¼”
1 tablespoon chervil leaves, plus additional leaves for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme, chopped, plus additional leaves for garnish
¼ cup dessicated coconut, or unsweetened
1 teaspoon high quality extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus additional for garnish
Sea salt crystals
Place the nectarines (or peaches, if using) in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the puree through a mesh sieve placed over a medium saucepan, pressing on the solids to extract as much nectarine liquid as possible. Add the dried red chili pepper or crushed red pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat and reduce by about one half. Remove the chili pepper and strain the liquid through a mesh sieve into a clean glass bowl. Add the honey and lemon juice and mix to combine. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Taste. Adjust the seasonings by adding salt or pepper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced tomatoes and nectarines, the chervil, thyme, and coconut. Add just enough of the nectarine syrup to flavor the tomato and nectarine mixture, and gently combine. The mixture should be thick and hold together. If necessary, add the olive oil to moisten the mixture and gently toss.
Place a 2” (or larger) diameter round mold on a chilled plate. Fill the mold with the nectarine tomato mixture. Carefully remove the mold. Plate each serving before garnishing.
Once each serving is plated, garnish with additional chervil leaves, thyme, and a drizzle of olive oil. Crush sea salt crystals between your fingers and lightly sprinkle each timbale with a small bit of the crushed crystals.