During July and August, when sweet and juicy white and yellow peaches are in season, I get more excited than a twelve-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. Not only are peaches delicious, they are full of vitamin C, fiber, and folic acid. So when I came across a stall brimming with beautifully-hued, tender peaches at the farmers’ market, I impulsively bought eight pounds.
When I chose my peaches I made sure to pick the ones that smelled sweet and were slightly firm, but not hard. I also avoided peaches that had deep cuts, were heavily bruised, or mushy. Although most of the peaches I picked were ripe, a few were unripe so I planned on placing them in a brown paper bag and leaving them outside for a day or two when I got home. The ethylene gases that the peaches release makes the fruit ripen faster.
Because the peaches I bought were so aromatic, I ate two on my way home. I also ate one before dinner and had another for breakfast. But by late afternoon, I realized that I had nearly six pounds left and they were going to go bad if I didn’t do something with them since peaches tend to last only three to five days in the fridge.
Normally, when I have a lot of fruit left over, I just make a pie. But since I’m afraid my drawstring pants will start cutting off my circulation if I eat any more pie, I decided to forego the idea. In a moment of weakness, however, I flirted with the idea of using all my peaches to make a cobbler instead (hey, it’s technically not a pie), but in the end I came up with five ways to eat peaches…without making a pie or cobbler.
I love a fancy dessert as much as the next person, if not more, but grilled peaches make a simple and wonderful dessert. Grilling peaches adds a smoky quality to the fruit that enhances its sweetness. Simply cut the peaches in half, pit them, brush them with softened butter and grill them face-down over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Turn them over and cook for another couple of minutes, or until they are soft. Grilled peaches tastes great with ice cream or topped with yogurt and honey. Pork and gamey meats like duck also go well with grilled peaches.
Once upon a time salsa was made only with tomatoes, but now there are more kinds of salsa than there are past judges of American Idol. Fruit salsas are especially appealing because the acidity of lime balances the sweetness of almost any fruit. Peach and avocado salsa is by far my favorite fruit salsa. Because peaches are firm, they hold their shape well, while the avocados add a nice creaminess to the salsa. I like to serve the peach and avocado salsa with pan-seared pork, but it also tastes great with chicken, fish, shrimp, or chips.
Added to a Salad
During the sweltering months of July and August, most of us would rather sit through a bad date with a pez-collecting actuary than turn on our oven, so we end up eating a lot of salads. Break up the monotony of your salads though, by tossing in freshly sliced peaches. My favorite salad is a combination of slightly bitter and peppery arugula, a simple vinaigrette, and shaved Pecorino Romano. For a little protein, throw in some toasted walnuts or grilled chicken.
When peaches are poached, good things happen. The peaches are infused with the wonderful flavors of their poaching liquid and become incredibly tender. Try poaching peaches in simple syrup with a cinnamon stick and star anise. You can also try a slightly more sophisticated version, peaches poached with Cava and vanilla.
Sandwiches are also another perfect way to avoid turning on your oven during the summer. Instead of eating your peaches alongside your sandwich, why not add the peaches to your sandwich. The sweet and salty combination of prosciutto, ricotta, and peaches on focaccia are perfect for any meal or you can try a grilled cheese sandwich made of havarti cheese and peaches on pumpernickel. Another great sandwich is thinly sliced peaches, smoked ham, and watercress on a baguette.