As I write this, the smell coming from the paper bag in the kitchen fills the house with deliciousness. It is the scent of summer. It brings me back to my old growing up kitchen, so long ago, with that 60’s daisy wall paper on the ceiling, and sticky hands and cheeks. To this day, my favorite way to eat a peach is leaning over the kitchen sink.
These are organic peaches called Early Red Havens. They were grown by Bob and Shelly Berryman of Twin Springs Organic Farm in Rice, Washington, who have been growing certified organic peaches every summer since 1981. Juicy, sweet and super fragrant, to me, these peaches are perfection. Each peach is tree-ripened and then hand picked. They go back to the same tree several times, only picking the ones that are at their ideal ripeness, ensuring each peach has reached its peak flavor. Peaches are “climacteric”, meaning they can ripen after they are picked. But they can’t get any sweeter. Sweetness and flavor come from being allowed to mature on the tree, before they are picked.
Their peaches are grown in an arid dry region of Washington, near lake Roosevelt. This perfect combination of dry climate and fertile soil allows the sugar content and flavors to become really concentrated. You can find them at the Thursday Market on Perry Street and the Liberty Lake Market on Saturdays. They also can be found in Seattle.
Make an easy vinaigrette with white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and a little honey or agave.
I like using white balsamic vinegar verses regular balsamic in this vinaigrette because it’s a little lighter and brighter on the palate and also doesn’t dull the gorgeous color of the peaches. But if you can’t find it, a good quality balsamic works just fine.
Lightly brush a little olive oil or some vinaigrette on the peaches and place on a preheated grill set to Medium. Make sure your grill is good and clean, using a wire brush to scrape off past endeavors.
Once you lay them down, don’t fiddle with them. Just let them sit and develop grill marks. About 5 minutes later, gently flip one and see if it is nicely grilled and ready to turn. When they are, carefully turn them, with a metal spatula, and try to retain some of the grill marks. Grill for just a minute or so.
Purple basil, also found at the farmers market, gives this salad a beautiful color. It is actually a little milder in flavor, but really fragrant. Once the peaches are grilled toss the arugula and purple basil with some of the vinaigrette. Lay on a platter. Slice grilled peaches and arrange over top, along with shepherds cheese.
Sprinkle the salad with nasturtium petals and serve. Nasturtiums add bright spots of color and an unexpected nuttiness and spiciness. When selecting cheese, choose one that is not too salty. Chèvre, fresh mozzarella, or a fresh sheep’s milk cheese work great. Salty cheeses, like feta, not so great.
Fill with dressed arugula, basil, cheese and a grilled peach slice.
Roll up and skewer.
Grilled Peach Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette
by Sylvia Fountaine, Feasting at Home Blog- June-1-2012
3 Ripe, delicious smelling peaches, halved
6 oz arugula (or other favorite green)
a slightly firm, mild sheep’s milk cheese, chèvre, or fresh goat cheese, or fresh mozzarella (nothing too salty like feta)
1/8 C Toasted slivered almonds
Purple basil leaves
White Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 1/2 T white balsamic vinegar
1 T honey or agave
4 T olive oil
You could add a T fresh orange juice to this if you want, or even some finely diced shallot would be nice.
Mix the vinaigrette together in a cute jar. Half the peaches, scooping out he seeds if necessary. Brush with a little of the vinaigrette and place on a grill preheated to medium. Let grill for 4-6 minutes uncovered until they have noticeable grill marks. Using a metal spatula gently turn over and grill one more minute. Try to keep peach in tact. Cut peaches into wedges.
Toss greens and purple basil leaves and slivered almonds with some of the vinaigrette.. You will have some left over. Make a bed of greens, and place grilled peaches on top and bits of cheese. Sprinkle witih purple basil and nasturtium petals. So easy.
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 10 minute Total time: 20 minutes