Slices of cool, fresh nectarines take on surprisingly concentrated flavors when bathed in a nectar-like wine syrup. This is one of the more intriguing fruit desserts you’ll taste, and there’s nothing to it — merely nectarines, sugar, wine and an interesting technique. We’ve been making it every summer since I first wrote about the dish in The Italian Country Table.
It uses an old trick from country cooks for making decent fruit taste better and superb fruit taste luscious. Macerating sliced fruit with sugar permeates them with sweetness and concentrates their flavors while drawing out their juices into a syrup. Then, marinating the fruit in wine releases still more tastes, because certain flavors are soluble only in alcohol. Use the technique with all stone fruits, berries, pears and apples. It won’t let you down.
Cook to Cook: If nectarines are ripe, peeling is often simply a matter of pulling back their skin with a sharp knife. If need be, dip nectarines very briefly in boiling water. The goal is solely to loosen their skins, never to cook the fruit, as its character would change drastically. Of course, you could leave their skins on as well.
1. Layer the nectarines in an attractive glass serving bowl, sprinkling each layer with a tablespoon or so of sugar. (Use less sugar rather than more.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.
2. Taste the nectarines for sweetness, adding more sugar as needed. Pour in the wine to barely cover, turning the fruit gently with a spatula to blend. Cover again and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours.
3. Take the fruit out of the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes before serving. Present the nectarines by spooning them and their liquid into bowls or wineglasses and finishing with sprigs of mint or lemon verbena.
From A Summertime Grilling Guide by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. Copyright © 2012 by American Public Media.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.
Sally Swift is the managing producer and co-creator of The Splendid Table. Before developing the show, she worked in film, video and television, including stints at Twin Cities Public Television, Paisley Park, and Comic Relief with Billy Crystal. She also survived a stint as segment producer on The Jenny Jones Show.