After a long, hot summer and plenty of bad fruit (Seriously, is there anything as disappointing as a mealy peach?), it’s finally peach season in Colorado. Our really, truly delicious, worth-the-wait peaches come from the western slopes of the Rockies near Colorado’s peach capitol, Palisade. And I think they are some of the best anywhere. (If I have any Georgian readers out there, don’t get feisty; I did say, “some of the best.”)
Anyway, although the farmer’s market stalls are piled high with local peaches, I usually get them from the church down the street from my house, which sells them as a fundraiser for its preschool. When my bushel(s) arrive, I get very excited. And overwhelmed. Like any other luscious ripe fruit, fresh peaches don’t keep very long, so I get creative and find ways to work them into every meal. In addition to tossing them into my family’s cereal, yogurt, smoothies, lemonade, (homemade peach) ice cream, and salsa, I grill them with meat and also freeze a bunch. After doing that the wrong way for years (i.e. slice a pile of peaches and throw in freezer bags, all really fast so they don’t get brown), I finally learned the right way: Here it is.
I know there are zillions of peach recipes on the internet and at least one cookbook devoted entirely to cooking with peaches, so I will just toss out a few of may favorite peach ideas.
- Chicken and Peach Orzo Salad. A perfect summer meal. Start with some grilled or rotisserie chicken (2 large breasts or more) and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add sliced peaches (2 or 3 depending on how big). Mix with seeded, chopped cucumbers, finely diced red onion, and whatever other veggies you have on hand (red pepper or celery for instance), then add crumbled feta or goat cheese. Toss with 1 lb. cooked orzo and dressing. For the dressing, combine in a bowl: 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1 tbs. lemon juice, 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (or parsley would be good, too), a pinch of sugar, and salt & pepper.
- Green salad with peaches. In case it never occurred to you, you can throw sliced peaches into just about any green salad. For instance, last night I made a spinach salad with walnuts and sliced peaches, and it was fantastic. Toss with a little olive oil and lemon juice.
- Berry Peach Topping. Combine peeled, sliced peaches with fresh raspberries and/or strawberries in a small pan. Add some (okay, a lot of) sugar and a couple drops of good balsamic vinegar, and cook on low to medium heat, stirring frequently, until it becomes sauce-like. Use as a topping for (homemade peach) ice cream or pancakes. To make a more savory sauce for meat or fish, omit the sugar and add soy sauce and jalapeños (with their juice, from a jar).
- Easy Peach Crisp. Years ago, when I lived in San Francisco, my roommate and I “invented” this beyond-easy and delicious desert. It’s kind of like a cobbler but requires almost no baking skills. We called it “That Peach Thing,” and here’s the recipe:
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1 stick unsalted butter, sliced
7 medium peaches, peeled