A perfect summer starter
150g watercress, washed
10 ripe plums, washed
125g pancetta, fried until crispy
125g buffalo mozzarella, torn
1 tbsp (15ml) white balsamic vinegar
4 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp (30ml) sugar
3 tbsp (45ml) vegetable oil
To make the plum dressing:
Roughly chop up five of the plums, discarding the pits and place it in a heavy based sauce-pan. Add balsamic vinegar, thyme and sugar and heat slowly allowing the sugar to melt. Cook gently over low heat until you receive a sauce-like consistency. Remove from heat and strain plum juice through a sieve. Whisk in the vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper.
To assemble the salad:
Slice the remaining five plums into wedges and set aside. Arrange watercress onto a platter and top with plums, crispy pancetta and torn mozzarella. Drizzle with a little plum dressing just before serving.
Rosé is one option – the light fruitiness of the wine will complement the plum dressing – but even more rewarding would be a new-wave Cinsaut served slightly chilled – plenty of fruit but also some spice and a little extra body to play off against the pancetta.