Barbara’s baked nectarines – the last fruits of summer

My big sister Barbara is a great cook. She married young and had a family whilst I was still in high school. I loved going to her place for a meal back then, especially without my parents as she might cook something exotic that they would not have eaten (such as Chinese or Indian inspired food). My father was a real italian in the sense that he claimed to only eat italian food, as everything else was “rubbish”. In latter years my sister managed to sneak one or two dishes with non-traditional ingredients past him and he would begrudgingly eat them and might even like them. Though he was pretty vocal about it when he didn’t! A few weeks back we went to Barbara’s beach house for a celebratory lunch and she made some fantastic baked nectarines with fresh ginger and lime. Whilst I was eating them, I was thinking about my papa’, who passed away two years ago this week and how much I miss him. I imagined him sitting at the table, grumbling about the ginger – but secretly loving the sweet and spicy baked stone fruit.

italian food blog-italy on my mind-nectarines in a bowl

I love simple dishes and this one definitely fits the bill. It has four ingredients in addition to the fruit. It goes something like this – halve some nectarines and throw on some fresh ginger, brown sugar, lime juice, and some fortified wine. Bake them and eat them, warm or cool. Now really, how easy was that? I took some photos while Barbara was preparing them a few weeks back. She cooks like me – she didn’t seem to measure many things (we learnt that from our mother), throwing on a bit of sugar, a bit of muscat and so on….. I called her up to get the recipe from her and found out it is based on a recipe she got from the Waitrose (UK) site. I made them at home a few nights ago, adding more ginger for extra zing and using Marsala (as I had no muscat). We ate the baked nectarines with some Gundowring French Vanilla icecream. They were sweet, tangy and spicy – what a fantastic and simple dessert, it is a perfect way enjoy the last of the summer stone fruit as we head into autumn.

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Baked nectarines
Serves 6
6 ripe but firm nectarines, halved and stone removed
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
50g brown sugar
1/2 lime, juice only
2 tablespoons Marsala
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the nectarine halves in a bowl. Add the ginger, sugar, lime juice and Marsala (or Muscat if you have any). Toss everything with your hands so the nectarine halves are covered with the other ingredients. Line a deep baking tray with baking paper (so that it comes up the sides) and place the nectarines cut side up so that they form a single layer. Pour the water in the tray so that the nectarines are sitting in a bit of water. Bake for 20 minutes or until the fruit is still firm but maintains its shape. A beautiful liquid will have formed on the baking paper which is perfect for spooning over ice cream, cream or mascarpone when you serve the cooled baked nectarine halves.

baked nectarines-italian food blog-italy on my mind

In memory of my dear papa’ here is a photo from 1950, on the journey to Australia. I don’t think he is yet in Australia (maybe Coloumbo, Sri Lanka where the ships stopped along the way) looking rather casual in shorts and smoking a pipe near the ship.
papa' in shorts station pier

21 comments on “Barbara’s baked nectarines – the last fruits of summer

  1. I love the photo of your father…it really captures the journey and a sense of him… Nectarines look good too!I. think next year I will have a bountiful harvest!

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  2. These look delicious! I have pinned the recipe so that I can make it when we have summer peaches! I loved the story about your dad because it reminded me of my parents, too! Italians are so proud of their cuisine that they snoff at all others!! Too funny! One time I made sweet potatoes as part of our Thanksgiving feast, with a recipe that I got from someone in the deep South (where they know all about sweet potatoes), and my dad refused to try them. He found every excuse, but mostly that they were too sweet to be enjoyed during a savory meal. It took years before we convinced him to try them, and when he did, he fell in love! He would ask me every year if I was going to make them, and because of him, they have become a staple recipe at Thanksgiving!

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    • What a great story and memory!! Funny thing about Italians isn’t it? My father also scoffed at “patate dolci” – I don’t think he ever came to terms with them though, unlike your father.
      Thanks for commenting – I love hearing stories like these

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  3. Haha… I’m not Italian but I work with many older Italian people (as a health visitor) who are exactly the same as your father was. I guess I can understand… Italian food is pretty wonderful! I’m sorry for your loss. He sounds like he was a lovely man. This is a beautiful recipe. You sound like a very talented family in terms of cooking! I’m definitely going to try this whilst stone fruit is still available here in Australia. Thanks lovely xx

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    • It’s funny, food is so important to Italians – at any age – that never seems to leave them. What work do you do with elderly Italians? I used to work with them in community health (as a service provider) and I loved it – they always gave me food as presents (of course). There is till is lots of stone fruit around – so I hope you enjoy making this dish. Thanks again for visiting my blog 🙂

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