When I was writing The Gardeners’ Community Cookbook–a marvelous compendium of dishes gleaned from gardeners across the nation who submitted their home recipes for the volume–one that stood out as I was sorting through the entries was a peaches and tomatoes salad (Liz Goodroe, Germantown, Maryland).
At first it sounded outlandish, but I succumbed to its charm when I tested the recipe. Since then I have learned that this is a not unusual American combination; it was just new to me. Recipes for it abound, with the tomatoes and peaches cut in various ways, slices or chunks, and usually with basil as the herb. Every year as the season turns to
autumn and we see the last of the exuberantly tasty peaches and tomatoes, I make an adaptation of her rendition which calls for tarragon. I switch from the usually called for cider or distilled white vinegar to balsamic because I love the combination of balsamic with peaches (see the second recipe below).
Tomato and Peach Salad
2 medium ripe but still firm peaches, preferably freestones
1 1/ 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, preferably a mix of colors
1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
1. Cut the peaches in half around the longitudinal circumference and pull out the stones. Cut each half lengthwise into 1/ 4-inch slices and place them on a serving plate. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise or leave them whole, depending on their size, and add them to the peaches.
2. Combine the vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Pour over the peaches and tomatoes. Sprinkle the tarragon across the top and serve.
There’s more on the savory ways with peaches theme! I recently needed an extra something to go with pork chops. There they were, two beautiful freestone peaches, ripe and ready to be eaten. I halved them, plucked out the pits, and set the halves in a baking dish, cut sides up. I placed a teaspoon of butter in the cavity of each, sprinkled them ever-so-lightly with ground clove, and added 2 tablespoons of water in the bottom of the dish to keep them from sticking. I baked them in a 375F degree for 45 minutes, until they were soft enough to fork without resistance and the butter was sizzling.
I sprinkled them with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, splashing it across and over the tops, and cooked them for 5 minutes more. The balsamic and peach juices reduced into a gorgeous, cordovan brown/red syrup, spicy, tart, and tangy all at once, and garnished them with fried sage leaves. They were the perfect complement to the pork chops.
Fried Sage Leaves
8 fresh sage leaves
1. Heat the butter in a small sauté pan over medium-hi heat. Add the sage leaves, placing them in one by one so they don’t overlap, and cook for 2 minutes, turning once.