I recently sold a house where the seller was emphatic that the buyers provide the utmost care to the prolific peach tree in the backyard and, if the new owners would lovingly do so, they would realize the produced fruit is “a slice of heaven.”
Not long after that, I listened to a modern day twist on a biblical parable featuring a peach tree. Long story short, your labor will produce fruit that is “heaven on earth.”
A day later, my husband, Mike, emailed me a random recipe for Grilled Peaches and said, “This looks heavenly; you should make this.” (Okay, he didn’t actually use the word “heavenly” but it was implied and I was sensing a theme here.) I’m taking all of the above as a sign. I must write about peaches.
A perfectly ripened peach is pretty perfect. Freshly bitten or sliced into some fabulous salad, compote, or summertime dessert, there’s no denying it’s a memorable culinary experience. When purchasing peaches, choose fruit that is firm to the touch but whose flesh will yield with gentle pressure. It should be unblemished and free of bruises and have a fragrant aroma. A good indicator of a mature peach is a well-defined cleft. Since peaches are highly perishable, purchase only the amount you need. Do not wash the fruit until just before you intend to use it and store at room temperature. When doing so, be sure there is enough space between them for adequate air circulation.
The peach and the hot heat of a grill are a perfect summer marriage. When the peach meets the high temperature, caramelization and smoky flavors mix with the fruit’s natural sweetness for an intense flavor. To grill, choose a peach with some firmness to the flesh. As it chars it will soften, intensifying its sweetness and caramelizing the natural sugars in the most amazing way. Here’s my version of a slice of culinary heaven.
When grilling peaches, a little brush of canola oil will keep them from sticking to the grill.
Grilled Peaches with Feta and Basil
3 peaches, halved and pits removed
4 ounces feta, crumbled
10-12 basil leaves, shredded
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzle
juice of ½ a lemon
salt, to taste
1. Preheat the grill. Brush the peach halves with oil; place peaches cut side down and grill until starting to turn tender and grill marks appear, approximately 3 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Slice halves into bite-size wedges.
2. Arrange the grilled peaches on a platter and scatter with the cheese and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Finish with a dash of salt and serve immediately.