Food & Wine (July 2008)
Our small-plates feast continued with these drop-dead gorgeous peaches wrapped in pancetta and basil.
These are stunning, heavenly little bites that just strike all the perfect flavor notes: the sweet fresh peaches, the smoky-salty char of the pancetta, the dark, rich balsamic and the herbal, almost licorice scent of the basil.
With peaches at their peak at our farmers market, and a handful of basil from our window box herb garden, the only thing we had to purchase at the grocery was the pancetta.
(Side note: We asked the butcher to cut the pancetta very thin, and she obliged -- too much, as it turned out. We ended up with gossamer tissues of pancetta that were actually quite difficult to work with. For this recipe, you want thin-sliced meat, but not too thin.)
Like the Beet-and-Burrata Crostini, this tapas dish was surprisingly easy to put together (aside from the finnicky pancetta). We assembled everything before our guests arrived, and then finished the little morsels in a skillet just before serving them.
It's hard to beat a plain, fresh-picked peach, but this recipe is a great way to dress up a delicious summer fruit, making for a sophisticated, beautiful small plate.
TOTAL TIME: 30 MIN
4 FIRST-COURSE SERVINGS
* 16 thin slices of pancetta
* 2 medium freestone peaches—halved, pitted and cut into 8 wedges each
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 16 basil leaves
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
1. Lay the pancetta slices out on a work surface. Set a peach wedge at the edge of each slice, season with salt and pepper and top with a basil leaf. Roll up the pancetta to enclose the peaches.
2. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add half of the wrapped peaches and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until the pancetta is browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a platter and repeat with the remaining peaches.
3. Lightly drizzle the peaches with aged balsamic vinegar and serve.