It’s safe to say that most people who are into food and wine have a favorite chef. One whose recipes they can rely on for any occasion. One whose dishes never cease to amaze them. It may be mom, it may be a celebrity chef, it may be your parent’s friend whose pizzeria you’ve gone to for the past 30 years. For me, that chef is Suzanne Goin. Suzanne is the owner of 4 restaurants in the Los Angeles area. Every time I’m in LA I’m always drawn back to one of those restaurants, AOC, where the vibe is hip but comfortable, and the specialty is small plates and glasses of wine. Translation: I can order a bunch of dishes and multiple glasses of wine and feel normal ‘cause everyone’s doing it. Suzanne is a master of her craft, turning out the best chicken liver crostini I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, and even more, is an avid proponent of seasonal ingredients (sound familiar?). Right before I moved to the East Coast I had one last dinner at AOC and decided to buy her cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques so that I might bring a piece of her cooking with me.
It’s a beautiful book, chock full of seasonal recipes and stunning photography. I’ve attempted a handful of recipes from it: Ricotta Gnocchi with Sweet Corn, Sage Brown Butter and Chanterelles, Pastel Vasco with Blackberry Compote and Whipped Cream, Ragout of Morels with Crème Fraiche, Soft Herbs and Toasted Brioche…and all have been wonderful. And so, when I needed a good recipe to write about that would taste good with wine and was seasonal, I looked to my friend, Suzanne. She didn’t disappoint with:
Summmer Fruit Salad with Arugula and Marcona Almonds.
*Adapted From Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
- 2 Tbsp finely diced shallot
- 3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 12 fresh figs, stems removed and cut in half
- 7 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ripe nectarine
- 1 ripe peach
- 2 ripe plums
- ½ basket (about 1 cup) blackberries or Persian mulberries
- 8 oz arugula, cleaned and dried
- ½ lemon, for juicing
- 2/3 cup Marcona almonds
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the shallot, vinegar, and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl and let sit 5 minutes.
Using a mortar and pestle, pound three fig halves to a coarse puree. Transfer the fig puree to the shallot mixture and whisk in the olive oil. Taste for balance and seasoning.
Cut the nectarine, peach and plums in half and remove the pits and cut them into ¼ inch thick slices. Place the sliced fruit remaining figs and berries in a large bowl. Drizzle half of the vinaigrette over the fruit and season with salt and pepper. Gently toss in the arugula, sprinkle in some more salt and pepper and taste for seasoning, adding more vinaigrette and a squeeze of lemon if needed.
Arrange on a large chilled platter and sprinkle the nuts on top.
Pair with Ponte Moscato
*It’s important to use the freshest and most delicious fruits from the market. So, if you find that the plums don’t look so hot, don’t use them! Instead, substitute whatever looks fabulous, whether it’s apricots or cherries.
–Who is your favorite chef?