I have often written about braais (BBQs) on this blog – in fact, there is a separate section for braai recipe in my recipe index! We have braaied in all weather, in various locations and for varying numbers of people. And although we tend to repeat similar stuff when we are only braaing for ourselves (lamb chops, boerewors, potato salad and green salad), we try never to give guests the same lineup twice.
And of course, what we make is also affected by the number of people: if (like at last weekend’s braai) there are 15 guests, we tend to go for more basic stuff that can easily be scaled up to feed the hordes. But if (as we had a couple of weeks ago) it is a small and intimate braai for five, we can get a little more creative. People tend to think that a braai has to centre on vaguely burnt meat, on men standing around the fire drinking beer, and on women standing in the kitchen making salads.
I like to think Nick and I have perfected the art of working a braaied main course seamlessly into a three-course sit-down meal. Which is exactly what we did when Lisa, Alex and Rory came to lunch. Champagne cocktails were sipped and the table was set outside under the trees. But before we got to our main course of pork loin stuffed with pear and sage, done to absolute perfection on the Weber by Nick, there was the little matter of a starter.
It had to be light and summery, it had to be easy to prepare (what’s the sense in a summery lunch braai when you are trapped in the kitchen all day?), and I was hoping I would be able to use the new ingredient I brought back from my trip to South Africa: caramelised verjuice. I plan to do a more detailed post on this soon, but for now, suffice to say that this is a very old ingredient that has recently been enjoying a revival and it is your new best friend in the kitchen :)
The end result of all this was a starter of quartered fresh nectarines wrapped in Prosciutto and roasted, before being served on a bed of wild rocket and feta cheese and drizzled liberally with caramelised verjuice. It’s dead easy, it looks spectacular, and the combination of soft and crunchy; sweet and savoury; and caramelised and peppery is nothing short of perfection. And best of all is that it is light, leaving plenty of room in your tummy for the main course.
And for dessert!
3 ripe nectarines
6 slices of Prosciutto (or Serrano ham)
250g of feta cheese, crumbled
1 bag of wild rocket leaves
Caramelised verjuice syrup or caramelised balsamic vinegar syrup for drizzling
Halve and stone the nectarines, than cut each half in two wedges. Wrap each wedge in a slice of ham and place in an oven-proof dish in a single layer.
Roast at 200C until the ham is beginning to crisp and the edges of the nectarines are beginning to brown (about 15 mins).
Arrange the rocket on individual plates and sprinkly generously with crumbled feta. Place two nectarine quarters on each plate, drizzle with syrup and serve.