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Peach & Tomato Salad

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Serves 6
by Chef Didi Davis from Side Dishes: Creative & Simple

This unusual salad combines the voluptuous sweetness of peaches with the sweet-acid taste of tomatoes. Fennel contributes spiciness, and toasted hazelnuts add a welcome crunch. The salad is at its best when prepared with the juiciest fruit available at the peak of summer. If peaches are mealy, try substituting nectarines. For maximum flavor, you'll need to make up the fennel oil two days in advance. Serve with fish, chicken or pork, on a buffet or with focaccia and a few cheeses for a luncheon.

1/4 cup hazelnuts
4 large ripe peaches, yellow or white
4 medium-large ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, finely crushed
Sea Salt (we suggest Black Cyprus Sea Salt Flakes)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or fennel oil (recipe follows)
Fresh parsley, fennel, basil or mint sprigs for garnish

To toast the nuts: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a cake pan and bake, stirring halfway through, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven.

To remove the skins from hazelnuts, wrap a clean dish towel around them and rub them together in the towel to loosen the skins; discard the skins. Chop the nuts and set them aside.

Cut each peach in half through the stem end and remove the pit. Place the peaches cut sides down and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Core and cut the tomatoes crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the fruit on a platter, alternating the colors.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, fennel seeds and a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Slowly add the oil, whisking to blend. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Spoon the dressing over the fruit, scatter the reserved hazelnuts over the top and garnish the dish with parsley, fennel or mint.

© 2011 Salt Traders

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