Which enchanted fruit grants eternal life? Chinese legend would have us believe that eating magical peaches bestows health, virility and immortality.
Peaches came to the United States from China via Spanish explorers in the 16th century. While commonly enjoyed now, peaches were once a rare delicacy. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria would eat a fresh peach on a decorative napkin with every meal.
Today peaches are the second-largest commercial fruit crop grown in the United States. Besides being a delicious summer fruit, peaches are rich in fiber, antioxidants, potassium, vitamin A and other vitamins. One large peach contains 61 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates. Peaches come in hundreds of varieties, but the most well known is the nectarine, which is a smooth version of the fruit.
The recipe below turns peaches into a wonderful side dish for a summer supper and is found on the Dickey Farms website. (You'll find additional imaginative dishes starring peaches on this site as well.)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 firm, ripe peaches, halved
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Combine the vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Place the peach halves in a shallow dish. Pour the vinegar mixture over the peaches, tossing gently to coat. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove the peaches. Whisk together 2 tablespoons of the vinegar mixture with the oil in a small bowl, blending well, and set the vinaigrette aside.
Place the peach halves, cut sides down, on a lightly greased grill rack. Cover and grill over medium heat (350 degrees) 5 minutes on each side or until firm and golden, basting with the remaining vinegar mixture. (If you don't have a grill, you can use your oven broiler.) When serving, spoon the vinaigrette over the peaches.
Here's a word of caution. Whether you eat fresh or cooked peaches, you may not become immortal. You can, however, be certain that you will enjoy great taste and bonus nutritional benefits.
P.S. Do you have any peach recipes to share?
Photo credit: La Grande Farmers' Market on Flickr.