My mother bought two types of bread: the first was the kind of loaf with extra thick slices that sandwich dreams were made of, reserved for herself and her nice-but-probably-drunk boyfriend. The second was the no-brand white that was so fluffy as to be near-translucent, the stuff that cost less than a quarter a pop, since it was sliced so thin you thought it might float off your plate as soon as you plonked it down. I remember, very clearly, which of the two loaves I was allowed to eat.
What I didn’t realize is how much that temporary distinction – this is the bread that you’re allowed, this is the bread that you’re worth – would stay with me for the rest of my life. Without me realizing it, of course. Like that little bastard of seedless insubstantiality managed to take root in my brain instead of assuaging my stomach at the time.
There’s a natural assumption that I’ve been cooking my whole life, that I grew up in some family member’s kitchen, that I’ve got a million stories of togetherness and sharing and life that looks good from the outside. Which makes sense, in a way, given that I now publish recipes for a living. I have a handful of treasured food memories: the way my grandma would make salmon as a treat or if I were sick (the two scenarios apparently required the same meal), the way my Dad would make rock cakes as entertainment (no, Hagrid doesn’t have dibs on those things), the cookbook with life size photos he gave me. But I didn’t learn to cook actual meals until well into my twenties.
So sometimes I doubt my skills, if not my enthusiasm. I’m not an expert at anything in the kitchen except making food that I like. And while I love to share recipes that celebrate flavor & food-as-as medicine, what I like to share with you all the most is simple.
How cooking made me, finally, feel like food was mine, not something to be taken away or held against me or counted & tallied against my self worth.
How learning to cook made me feel as though I really deserved to eat. To be nourished. To be loved. Most of all, by myself. And if you take anything away from what I share here, I hope, truly, that it’s that last sentiment.
Now, this stone fruit salad is the kind of dish that I never would have thought up on my own, because I still have a little bit of an iffy relationship with fruit. I rarely, almost never, sit down and eat fruit-heavy meals or side dishes, although I do love the play of sweet and savory in general. I’m more likely to add fruit to meat or seafood dishes as counterpoint than I am to make a fruit-forward kind of plate.
As I type this, I don’t think it’s a deliberate avoidance, but a subconscious one. Growing up, I suppose I thought of fruit alternatively as unnecessary and a luxury, then later, as just a delivery of calories. It’s ironic that even now, as someone people turn to for “healthy” food – whatever that means – that I still have those unconscious thoughts in my head, but as I’ve discovered lately, the attitudes I have to food and myself are one long Thread Of Things that I have yet to find the end of, yet alone unravel.
But this stone fruit salad was inspired by a tomato peach corn salad with a basil sauce from With Food + Love. Something about the vibrant colors and the punchy basil-ness of it all called to me. See, peaches can be savory, too.
Of course, I’ve had to reimagine this one a bit, since I couldn’t work with the corn, tomatoes or cashews. I used a mix of scent heavy peaches and on-the-tarter-side black plums, along with a handful of cherries I had waiting around, which is how it turned into a stone fruit salad rather than a peach-a-palooza. I could have gone with a runnier and lighter-hued basil and coconut milk concoction, but I wanted to avoid the sweetness that would bring, so I went instead with an avocado cream, spiked with basil from the garden and a splash of coconut milk to loosen things up a little.
You could make this coconut free by switching it out for a little water or extra oil to thin things down, but I wanted the creaminess that came from the milk, so there you go. And because summer is the season for gilding the salad, I added a few ribbony slices of prosciutto for that blend of salt & sweet I love so very much. (If you can do dairy, though, I love these goat cheese stuffed peaches!) All in all, my stone fruit salad doesn’t look too much like its inspiration, but I like where it ended up! I guess I feel that same way about myself, these days.Print
Stone Fruit Salad with Prosciutto & Basil Avocado Cream
Everything fresh & summery is wrapped up in this stone fruit salad! Fresh peaches, plums & cherries shine against a vibrant green basil avocado sauce with a ribbon or two of prosciutto to take it over the top. Inspired by this tomato peach corn salad with a basil sauce from With Food + Love.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
For the basil avocado cream:
- 5 oz / 200 g ripe avocado, about 1 very large
- 1/2 packed cup / 20 g fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup / 120 ml coconut milk, see notes (I like this one)
- 3 tbsp / 45 ml fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml neutral avocado oil or olive oil (I like this one)
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- Pinch of garlic powder
For the stone fruit salad:
- 2 – 3 medium peaches
- 2 – 3 small plums
- handful of fresh cherries
- 6 slices of prosciutto
- fresh basil leaves to garnish
- fresh ground pepper, to taste, omit for AIP
BLEND: Add all of the basil avocado cream ingredients to a wide mouthed pint sized Mason jar, or similar. Use an immersion blender to puree everything together until smooth and creamy. Set aside while you make the salad.
SLICE: Finely slice the peaches and plums. Pit the cherries and slice them in half. You can leave the prosciutto slices as they are or slice into thinner ribbons, if you like.
LAYER: Either on one large platter, or divided evenly between plates, spread and swirl the basil avocado cream as the base of the salad. Lay down the prosciutto slices, then top with sliced peaches, plums and cherries. Scatter with fresh basil leaves and grind fresh black pepper over the top, if using. Serve immediately.
Coconut milk gives a lovely creaminess, but to make this coconut free, you can add extra avocado or mild tasting olive oil, instead. Add the oil a little at a time – you won’t need as much oil as you do coconut milk to get to the desired consistency.
You can make the basil avocado cream ahead of time and chill it in the refrigerator. It will keep, with cling wrap touching each part of the cream’s surface, in an sealed, refrigerated Mason jar for at least 3 days.