With the height of summer in full swing; even living on the coast we find ourselves in the midst of days that have air thick and damp, as glaring afternoons bled into nights of stillness and relenting warmth. I'm not someone who finds this heat overly uncomfortable but it does make for a fickle appetite. I go chasing bright, refreshing flavours and as always it's the in season produce that delivers.
Enter peach, pineapple and cucumber; a trio that marries together effortlessly. At their ripest it only takes the slightest touch to bring them together for a summer salsa; one with sweet, zesty notes that pairs well with any number of meals. Speaking of notes; a short one on pineapple; this beautiful fruit is often avoided by a lot of people with digestive issues because of its acidity and as one of those people I tended to shy away from it myself for a number of years. As I've come to discover though there's a misconception that all digestive upset is caused by an overproduction of stomach acid, in fact a lot of people experience similar symptoms as a result of low stomach acid; in this case acid-containing foods can actually aid digestion. De-mystifying your own digestion can feel like quite a laborious task but as always I feel that you should explore your tolerance for a whole range of natural produce before diving into restriction. For those people who do still find pineapple aggravating by pairing it with neutralising foods, such as soy, almond or coconut milk it can still be enjoyed on occasion.
As for this salsa I often make it into a lighter meal by tossing it through a bowl of quinoa and serving it with avocado and watercress. It can however be served any which way; it could be shared with friends over seeded crackers; used as a condiment to slow cooked beans; spread over eggs with breakfast or just eaten plain by itself. Find your own way to enjoy it, though I do recommend it be eaten and prepared in the same day.
Summer Salsa / Serves 2 - 4
2 white peaches, de-stoned and peeled
2 yellow peaches, de-stoned and peeled
1 half pineapple, skin removed
1 large red onion
6 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
4 springs of mint, leaves picked and torn
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
For the dressing
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of cinnamon
Fresh chilli (optional)
Combine the ingredients for the dressing and set aside. Peel and dice the red onion and in a separate bowl combine it with the apple cider vinegar to stand while preparing the remaining fruit. Dice the peaches, pineapple and cucumber and combine with the mint and thyme leaves. Fold through the red onion, followed by the dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
1 cup tri-coloured quinoa
1 avocado, sliced
Handful of toasted seeds
Handful of watercress
Extra virgin olive oil
Rinse the quinoa thoroughly before combining it with 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Drain and season with salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil. Combine the salsa, quinoa, avocado, seeds and water cress in a bowl and serve immediately with an extra slice of lime.
Seasonal guide / temperate climates
Peaches, early summer to mid autumn, though at their peak late summer; Pineapple, generally all year round in tropical locations though sweetest from midsummer through mid autumn; Cucumber, early spring through late autumn; Red onion, late summer through mid autumn.
Choose a pineapple that feels weighty for its size; free of soft spots, bruises and darkened eyes. As the flesh turns a deeper yellow the flavour mellows and becomes sweeter. Pineapple can be stored at room temperature generally for a couple of days until ripe and then kept in the refrigerator; loosely uncut or otherwise in an airtight container.
Corn, tomato, capsicum, coriander, pistachios