Nicky Cahill: Nectarines, Apricots and Basil

These light and healthy summer dishes, are full of fragrant and juicy flavour. Nectarines and Apricots are abundant and at the height of their season, as is basil; these recipes minimise work in the kitchen and capitalise on relaxing and enjoying summer. The mix of fruit, nutty grains, garlic and lemon create a fresh savoury salad.

The salad is delicious on its own, or as a side dish, it works well for brunch or with BBQ’d meats, especially chicken. Nectarines are a nutrient dense, low calorie fruit with a large array of antioxidants and phenolic compounds and fibre. They are also excellent sources of potassium and other minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium and calcium.

Sitting in Provence earlier in the summer, laughing with friends during a moonlight dinner, we shared a pudding of apricots, nuts and something green. The slight aniseed taste and the colour gave away that the flavour was basil. The mix of fresh fruit and sweet basil is heady and delicious. This crumble is low sugar, low GI, and can be gluten free if you use, gluten free oats.

There is something oh so spectacular about basil, I adore it. I remember when it first appeared in abundance on our supermarket shelves here in Belfast in the late 90s. One whiff of the scent and you fall in love. There are hundreds of varieties of basil but the one I use most commonly is sweet basil.

Pick it up and bury your nose into its bright green leaves, allow the sweet smells to tickle your taste buds. You’ll pick up notes of citrus, cinnamon, clove and camphor – it is heady and delightful. I love having basil plants in my car after I have been in the shop, my drive home leaves me feeling refreshed, uplifted and itching to start cooking.

After my trip to France I have been putting basil into everything sweet and savoury – its perfume makes it so pleasurable to eat. Embrace its headiness and lingering scents use it abundantly and with extravagance.

Roasted Nectarine Barley Basil Salad

serves 4 as a starter or two as a side


• 8 nectarines stoned and sliced
• 1 large bunch of basil torn
• 2 packets Bulgur Wheat, Barley and Beluga Lentils (I use Marks and Spencer precooked)
• 4 scallions finely sliced
• 1 clove garlic crushed
• freshly ground salt and pepper
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tsp lemon juice

optional extras
• 1 cup of cooked sliced chicken
• 8 asparagus speers grilled
• 1/4 cup flaked almonds
• 1/2 cup of blueberries
• 1/2 cup of crumbled feta
• bag of spinach


• Heat grill until smoking, then add the slices of nectarines and grill until they are charred
• Lightly fry the garlic and chopped scallions in a little oil until soft, in a small pan
• Make Bulgur wheat, barley and beluga lentils the according to packet instructions
• In a large bowl toss all the ingredients together
• Season with freshly ground salt and pepper and serve

This salad can be served warm or at room temperature, but it is better not to serve it cold as that squashes the flavours.


Basil Apricot Crumble


• 2 cups of jumbo porridge oats
• 1/3 cup coconut oil melted
• 3-4 tbsp maple syrup
• 3 packets apricots about 18 – stoned and halved
• 1 large bunch of basil
• 1/2 cup golden caster sugar
• 1 tsp of honey


1/2 cup of blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1/3 cup of chopped toasted hazelnuts

1. Place the halved apricots on a baking tray and drizzle with honey, place an oven heated to 200’ for 10 minutes until fruit is soft, remove from the oven, and place into a large casserole dish
2. In a blender combine the sugar and the basil
3. Mix the basil sugar with the apricots
4. Melt the coconut oil and stir into the oats, along with the maple syrup, sprinkle over the top of the apricot and basil
5. Cover with a lid and bake for 40 minutes at 180°C (360°F) until oats are golden
6. Serve warm or cold, on its own or with greek yogurt and honey, ice cream or cream

By Nicky Cahill

If anyone has any food related questions or ideas for products they’d like Nicky to try, do get in touch.

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Post Author: Belfast Times

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