Last week I had amazing-tasting peaches from the local Greenmarket. Little pieces were cut for sampling right there at the farmers stand. They were sweet, juicy and the fuzzy skin did not even bother me. Usually I can’t stand the fuzzy skin and hence default to nectarines. The deliciousness made it clear why August has been the month of the peach for many years now.
That day I already had hand-picked local corn, heirloom tomatoes, and fragrant basil. The peaches would fit somehow in my cooking plan, which was slowly coming together in my mind already.
Later on at home I shucked the bi-colored corn and cut the kernels off the cob. I then sliced the heirloom tomatoes, and the peaches received a small dice treatment. The prepped vegetables were laid out on a large platter about 1-inch thick. A generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a sprinkle of sea salt, a dose of fresh black pepper from the mill and roughly chopped fresh basil strewn on top of it completed the dish.
The salad was so simple in its concept and totally satisfying that it became evident how amazing local produce is--the minimal preparation with no cooking involved was a big plus, too.
Almost a Bellini
I had some peaches and basil left over. So, I put the peaches without pits in the kitchen blenders along with a few large basil leaves and ice. After blending the mixture for 2 minutes I tasted it and it needed a tad of sweetening, so I added 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. It tasted delicious and refreshing, with a seductive basil fragrance.
Furthermore, the mixture can also be used as a cocktail base. Take 2 tablespoons of the peach mixture and top it off with sparkling wine such as Champagne, Cava or Prosecco. I call that cocktail “Garden Bellini.”
Chef’s Note: The cocktail Bellini was invented by Guiseppi Cipriani, the owner of Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy. He thought it up before World War II. The inspiration came from a painted saint in a peachy-pink toga, which was created by the famous painter Giovanni Bellini from the 15th century.
Below are the two ingredient lists for shopping.
Summer Salad with Peaches
(ingredients for 4 portions)
3 ears bi-colored corn
3 heirloom tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
10 turns of fresh black pepper from a mill
1/2 cup or 10 large basil leaves
(ingredients for approximately 8 cups)
3 peaches, seeds removed, chopped
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 large basil leaves
12 cups ice cubes
Growing up close to a peach orchard, another favorite of mine was the dessertPeach Melba, which consists of poached peaches, vanilla ice cream and raspberry puree. It is named after Nellie Melba, a famous Australian opera singer. Certainly makes me sing “La Laaa Laaaa.”