Putting Peaches on the Table

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    My dad, at the young age of 82, decided he wanted a garden. With the help of his landscape architect, they built four large raised garden beds that we have since filled with all sorts of herbs and vegetables. He tends to his garden daily and shares his bounty with family and friends.

    His heirloom tomatoes are so vibrant and in all different colors, sizes and flavors. And the cherry tomatoes — they are like candy! The basil and thyme are growing so well! Too well, actually. Since there is so much surplus, I snip myself fresh herbs and tomatoes every time I visit (which is almost daily).

    If you haven’t tried fresh thyme or basil with peaches, please give it a try. Their ability to transform a recipe is unparalleled; a few fresh leaves can turn a dish from ordinary to amazing. That’s what inspired both of these recipes. Well, that and a very sweet friend shared some of her homemade honey with me.

    Fresh, sun-ripened peaches add a fun twist to the traditional caprese salad of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. The combination of flavors and fresh ingredients is the most perfect balance of sweetness, acidity, saltiness and creaminess.

    Burrata, which is fresh mozzarella cheese filled with shreds of mozzarella soaked in cream, replaces the traditional sliced mozzarella cheese. I prefer to keep the burrata whole, but it can also be cut into pieces and sprinkled over the tomato and peach slices.

    The champagne vinaigrette really ties all the flavors together, but if you are short on time, eliminate the vinaigrette and just drizzle the caprese salad with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic glaze. (Balsamic glaze is balsamic vinegar that has been cooked down to thicken it to a syrup consistency, available at most grocery stores).

    Peach & Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Burrata
    (Makes about 5 servings)
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon champagne vinaigrette
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 ½ teaspoons honey
    2 balls (4 ounces each) burrata cheese
    2 large, ripe peaches or nectarines
    1 pound (about 3 medium) ripe heirloom tomatoes
    Fresh basil leaves, torn if large
    Flake sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Balsamic glaze
    Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and honey until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    Place burrata balls on a rimmed serving platter or plate. Remove the pits from the peaches and then cut the peaches into ¼-inch-thick slices. Halve and slice tomatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices. Arrange peaches and tomatoes on the platter.
    Sprinkle basil over top. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and a little balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.
    Grilled Peaches with Honey and Fresh Thyme
    Grilled peaches are the perfect summer dessert! In this recipe, the peaches are brushed with a little melted butter, and then grilled for a few minutes to bring out their natural sweetness. When buying, look for peaches that are fragrant and yield when pressed gently with your fingertip.

    Grilled Peaches with Honey and Fresh Thyme
    (Makes 6 servings)
    3 large, ripe but firm peaches or nectarines, halved and pitted
    2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, for brushing
    Honey for drizzling
    Flake sea salt
    Fresh thyme leaves
    Vanilla ice cream

    Preheat the grill or grill pan to medium heat (making sure the grates are clean and brushed with oil).
    Brush the cut side of the peaches with butter. Grill, cut-side-down, for 3 to 4 minutes or until char marks form (the riper your peaches, the less time they’ll need to grill). Flip the peaches over and grill for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the peaches are soft. Remove from the grill.
    To serve, drizzle peaches with a little honey. Sprinkle with salt and fresh thyme leaves. Top with a scoop of ice cream. Drizzle with additional honey, if desired.

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