peach, bacon, and bocconcini salad

belinda jeffery's recipes

My recipes are easy. They’re for the food I like to eat. Simple, fresh, full of flavour and just a bit different. You certainly don't need any great cooking skills for them, you just need to like food and like eating – just like me. The rest is simple.

peach, bacon, and bocconcini salad

This quick and easy salad has become my number one favourite dish this summer as I love the combination of flavours. Salty bacon offsets sweet, luscious peaches; rocket adds its peppery bite; bocconcini gives the whole thing more body, and the final smattering of pine nuts adds a lovely toasty crunch. Like all simple dishes, the secret to it is to use good ingredients – the peaches must be ripe, the pine nuts fresh, and the bacon tip-top quality.

P.S. I originally made this with prosciutto, and it works well too, however I must admit I love the salty/sweet contrast of the bacon and peaches.

Dressing
1/2 cup (120ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon #white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

Salad
4 large rashers of bacon, rinds trimmed
4 good-sized handfuls small rocket leaves
3-4 sweet, ripe peaches (preferably yellow, as the colour looks gorgeous) halved, peeled and fairly thickly sliced
8 medium-sized bocconcini, torn into pieces
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, optional
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

# White balsamic vinegar is a mixture of white wine vinegar and the sweet concentrated juice (or ‘must’, as it’s called) of white grapes that have been pressed with the skins and seeds. It is a pale straw colour and has a soft, subtle flavour that I love in salad dressings. If you are unable to find it then by all means use regular balsamic, sherry or white wine vinegar, but reduce the quantity a little and taste as you go, as they’re stronger.

For the dressing, put all the ingredients into a jar, seal it tightly and shake it until the salt has dissolved, then set it aside.

To cook the bacon, lay the rashers side-by-side in a large frying pan, then sit the pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon, turning it once, until it’s done to your liking, then take it off the heat. Scoop the rashers out of the pan onto a chopping board, and slice them into strips. Pour a tablespoon of the melted bacon fat into the dressing and give the jar a good shake. Taste the dressing, and make it a bit sharper or saltier if you like.

Line up four serving plates on your kitchen bench. Sit a small pile of rocket leaves on each one. Top these with some peach slices, bocconcini chunks, and a scattering of bacon pieces, then drizzle with a little dressing. Repeat this layering so you end up with a pretty pile of salad on each plate. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the top.

Finally, warm the olive oil in the bacon pan (if there is still some melted bacon fat in it, you may not need any oil) and sauté the pine nuts for a minute or two until they’re golden. As soon as they’re ready, remove the pan from the heat and scatter the warm nuts over the salads. Finish off with a good grinding of black pepper.

Serves 4.

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