Creamy, lactic mozzarella with sweet, slightly acidic fruit
Frying something as fresh and aromatic as lemon zest may sound counter-intuitive, but in fact it only enhances the flavour, releasing all sorts of lovely volatile oils and rendering it deliciously crisp in the process. I love the combination of creamy, lactic mozzarella with sweet, slightly acidic fruit—for a more robust dish, swap the peaches for ripe tomatoes and serve the lot on sourdough toast.
2 large unwaxed lemon
12 tbsp olive oil
4-6 fairly ripe peaches or nectarines, depending on size
2 balls of buffalo mozzarella
8 sprigs of basil
Peel the zest from the lemons in strips, keeping them as thin as possible to avoid the bitter white pith. Scrape any pith off the peel with a sharp knife, then cut the strips into long thin lengths. Put a plate lined with kitchen paper by the hob.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan and, when hot, fry the zest for about 30 secs, until just beginning to crisp and colour. Use a slotted spoon to scoop on to the paper to drain, and allow the oil in the pan to cool.
Juice the lemon and whisk the cooled oil into 4 tbsp of the juice. Season to taste.
Slice the peaches and divide between four small plates in an overlapping circle. Sprinkle with a little dressing, then cut the mozzarella balls in half and put one half, curved side up, in the centre of each of the plates. Spoon a little more dressing over the top, season, and sprinkle with the lemon zest strips and torn basil leaves to serve.
Recipe: Felicity Cloake
Image: Helen Cathcart