I find myself day-dreaming lately of careless summer days spent lying on my back staring at billowing clouds drifting across a perfect blue sky. As the perfume of baking peaches floats through the quiet of the kitchen in the early morning hours, my mind wanders. As I gather my recollections together like a stack of plates, the scent of caramelized raspberries brings back memories of lazy-day picnics shared along the rolling hills just outside Florence. The fragrance of summer fruit triggers memories so tangible, I could bite into them like a peach. I am forever grateful for having learned the simple pleasures of life in Italy. La vita e’ bella — otherwise translated as — life is beautiful.
The following dish is more about a combination of simply unforgettable ingredients, rather than a recipe. Baking ripe fruits in the oven intensifies their flavor, making breakfast for dessert (or vice versa) absolutely effortless.
- 4 ripe nectarines or peaches
- 150 grams fresh raspberries
- one large organic orange
- 50 grams of ground almonds
- 50 grams of steel cut or whole organic oats
- the zest of an organic lemon (optional)
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Scrub the orange well with a brush under cold running water. Grate the orange peel with a zester catching the thin curls into a small bowl. Squeeze the juice into a large mixing bowl. Wash the nectarines. Cut them in half and then cut each half into four wedges. Drop the sliced nectarines into the freshly squeezed orange juice and toss well.
Toast the almonds five minutes in the oven and grind them into a coarse powder. Dust an ovenproof tart dish with the almonds. Arrange the nectarine slices along with the all the juices in the mixing bowl on top. Sprinkle half the orange zest over the nectarines; then tuck in the raspberries between the nectarine wedges. Top the fruit composition off with the steel cut oats.
Bake the summer fruits 30-40 minutes or until the raspberries have melted and the nectarine juices have caramelized. Allow the fruit to cool slightly before serving it for a breakfast that looks like dessert. Alternatively, chill the fruits and serve them on a picnic or bring them to work for a delicious jam-jar lunch.
Although not necessary, I like to grate the zest of a lemon over the baked fruits just before serving. If I can find a vanilla bean in the pantry, I cut one open and scrape out some of the marrow, spreading it over the fruit at the table. This combination of flavors needs no further combining and yet it is delicious with homemade almond milk or a dollop of yoghurt.
Oven-baked fruits keep well for three to four days in the refrigerator. They are the perfect filling for homemade pancakes. Of course, any combination of fruits work perfectly for this type of preparation. One of my favorites late in the summer are fresh figs baked with red plums — drizzled with lavender honey. I think this will have to be the subject of another post soon.