Honey & Thyme-roasted Nectarine Salad with a Cinnamon Seed Sprinkle
Nectarines are delicious, one of my favourite summer fruits. They belong to the same species as peaches but aren't hairy. Nectarines are actually also related to plums, cherries, and loquats. Yellow-fleshed nectarines generally contain more beta-carotene than white-fleshed varieties. Like peaches, nectarines also come in "clingstone" and "freestone" varieties. The difference between them is the fact that the flesh will easily separate from the flesh of the nectarine if it is of the freestone variety, whilst the flesh of clingstone types will cling to the pit. Nectarines are generally sold by flesh colour, as either white- or yellow-fleshed.
As with the consumption of most fruits, eating nectarines is a healthy way to include important vitamins, minerals, and fibre in your diet. Epidemiologic evidence has shown time and time again that fruits and vegetables have a protective role to play in the prevention of cancer, as well as things like cataract formation, diverticulosis, heart disease, and a number of other diseases . Getting a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet each day isn't a bad idea, so why not enjoy nectarines before they're no longer in season :) Nutritionally, nectarines are very similar to peaches, boasting good amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, and fibre. Vitamin C is a great antioxidant, along with polyphenols found in nectarines such as beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin . Nectarines are also a source of potassium, containing 201 mg per 100 g (6% DV) .
Honey & Thyme-roasted Nectarines
This salad was developed for two reasons:
I had a whole lot of nectarines that needed to be eaten; and
I had to prepare a salad to take with to a friend's birthday braai on Friday night.
What better way to use up nectarines and celebrate them before their season is up for the year than to use them to make a delicious salad? These nectarines were not quite as ripe as I'd have liked them to be, but thankfully roasting them in the oven helped to bring out their flavour and soften their texture a bit. Drizzling the nectarines with a little bit of coconut oil and honey helped to keep the nectarines moist during cooking and made for a simple sweet drizzle over the salad. The thyme added an extra element of flavour to the delicious, juicy nectarines.
Cinnamon Seed Sprinkle
Since it came out on the shelves I've always loved Woolworths' cinnamon seed sprinkle for salads. Whilst I was making this salad I thought hey, this can't be too difficult to make at home. All you need are some seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax, and/or sesame seeds), honey, coconut oil, and a generous amount of cinnamon. Really, I can't emphasize this enough, this seed sprinkle is so easy to make at home. It's great to be able to control the amount of honey and coconut oil, as well as the seeds that you choose to use to make it. Feel free to use whatever seeds, and even nuts, that you have in your pantry.
Seeds are quite a nutritional superhero. They're packed with lots of goodness, with just a tablespoon of them boasting vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Pumpkin seeds, for example, are a great source of magnesium which promotes good heart health. Flaxseeds are a great source of fibre, magnesium, and alpha-linolenic acid, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that has plays a role in reducing inflammation in the body .
Thyme (haha) for the recipe :) This salad is a delicious accompaniment to some kind of simple protein dish. Because it has sweet elements to it, you probably won't crave dessert after eating it. Enjoy it over a glass of wine with good company, and let me know what you think :)
Total time: 40min
For the salad:
4 nectarines, yellow- or white-fleshed (freestone variety if possible)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp honey
A few sprigs of thyme
A big bag of mixed salad leaves
Brie, as needed
For the cinnamon seed sprinkle:
1 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame)
1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp cinnamon
For the salad:
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Cut the nectarines in half, removing the pit from the centre. Slice them into wedges. Place on a lined baking tray or in a roasting pan.
In a small saucepan, or in the microwave, melt and mix together the coconut oil and honey. Drizzle over the nectarines and toss to coat.
Remove the leaves from the fresh thyme and sprinkle over the nectarines.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the flesh has softened. Remove when done and set aside to cool a bit.
For the cinnamon seed sprinkle:
Place the seeds in a dry frying pan. Toast over a medium heat, stirring every now and then to prevent them from burning (seeds and nuts can burn really easily, so don't neglect them whilst they're on the heat). Remove from the heat when toasted nicely.
In a small saucepan or in the microwave, melt and mix together the honey and coconut oil.
Pour the honey-coconut oil mixture and the cinnamon over the toasted seeds. Mix together well until all of the seeds are coated.
Spread out the sticky seed mixture on a baking-paper lined baking sheet. Set aside and allow to cool. Place in the fridge to harden up a bit before breaking it up to sprinkle over the salad.
To assemble the salad:
Rinse and dry a generous amount of salad leaves of your choice before placing them in a large salad bowl.
Assemble your salad by adding the roasted nectarines, cut brie, and some cinnamon seed sprinkle.
Drizzle over any honey-coconut oil mixture that is left over in the nectarine roasting pan.
 Van Duyn MAS, Pivonka E. Overview of the Health Benefits of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption for the Dietetics Professional: Selected Literature. J Am Diet Assoc. 2000 Dec;100(12):1511-21.
 Gil MI, Tomás-Barberán FA, Hess-Pierce B, Kader AA. Antioxidant Capacities, Phenolic Compounds, Carotenoids, and Vitamin C Contents of Nectarine, Peach, and Plum Cultivars from California. J Agric Food Chem. 2002;50:4976-82.
 Nutritiondata. Nectarines, raw [Internet]. [date unknown] [cited 12 March 2017]. Available from: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1962/2.
 Horvath, N. 4 Ridiculously Healthy Seeds You Should Be Eating Every Single Day [Internet]. [8 Feb 2017] [cited 12 March 2017]. Available from: http://www.prevention.com/food/4-super-healthy-seeds/slide/4.