A Perfection Of Peaches

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Roasted Fruits And Roots

When it’s peach pickin’ time in Washington, west-siders drive across the Cascade mountains to score crates of plump, perfect peaches from east-side growers. Several of my friends bought over 100 pounds each, happily sharing the bounty with single folks like me. Of course, though I am technically “single” I am surrounded by people much of the time. I really don’t think of myself as a poor, lonely widow, and was amazed and rather touched when I was gifted a big bag of fruit by a kind friend who said he just knew I wouldn’t buy a box “anymore”.

Well, indeed, I would not buy a 44 pound crate of anything these days (except maybe yarn), but I’m delighted to have about 10 pounds of succulent, peachy culinary challenge. Some I blanched, peeled, sliced and froze in single layers on parchment paper, then packaged in freezer wrap for winter pies and crumbles. After making few pots of jam and peach/mango chutney, there were just three left. Here’s what happened:

Roasted Fruits And Roots

This combo may sound unlikely, but the result is scrumptious. Slightly chewy on the outside, creamy on the inside, each piece retains its own flavor yet also melds with the others. If you want to nudge it further toward the savory, dust the roasted bits with smoked paprika or chili powder. To make it frankly sweeter, gently toss with a little honey or maple syrup and a tad of vanilla. Serve warm or at room temperature, offering the savory version with cooked grains and leafy greens, or drizzle the sweeter version with a bit of Fra Angelico and chopped hazelnuts and call it dessert.

Roasted Fruits And Roots

2 tablespoons avocado oil
4 cups coarsely chopped ripe peaches
4 cups coarsely chopped Rainbow carrots
2 cups coarsely chopped sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (option 1)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (option 2)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (option 2)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine first four ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet and gently toss to coat with oil. Spread in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and bake until slightly caramelized (20-25 minutes), stirring once or twice. Season to taste with either option or serve as is. Makes about 4 cups.

Peach Oatmeal Breakfast Crunch

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups coarsely chopped ripe peaches with their juice
1/4 cup coarse coconut meal (unsweetened)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned oatmeal)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put 1 tablespoon butter into an 8 x 8 inch baking pan and set in oven to melt. When melted, spoon peaches and juice into pan, set aside. Blend remaining butter with coconut meal and brown sugar, then blend in oatmeal, making a coarse meal. Spread evenly over peaches and bake until crisp (30-40 minutes). Serves at least one.

A Peachy Chutney

Mangoes and peaches are usually available during the same period, but if ripe mangoes are scarce, I use dried mango “cheeks” instead. Soak the brittle slices in a little hot water until they plump up, then chop them into bite-sized bits before stirring them into the chutney. Add them at the same time as you would fresh or a bit later if you want the mango flavor to stand out more. Skip the ginger if you don’t like it (!?!) or add more if you do.

Peach Mango Ginger Chutney

1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 large onions, halved and thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried, ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups chopped firm peaches
2 cups peeled, chopped fresh or dried mango
2-3 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup minced candied ginger (optional)
1 cup apple cider vinegar

In a deep saucepan, heat oil with onions, garlic, cayenne pepper and sea salt over medium high heat until barely soft (3-5 minutes). Add remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often, until soft and thick (45-60 minutes). Bottle and seal as for jam or use fresh, refrigerating leftovers for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 3 cups.

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