Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Summer Peach Soup, Grilled Shrimp with Peach Salsa, Baked Ricotta with Grilled Peaches
We are definitely in the middle of summer and temperatures are soaring, sometimes allowing the sun to break through the moody clouds and fill our appetite with thoughts of fresh, tangy, light foods, colorful salads and refreshing desserts. Peach season is at its peak and the farmers markets are bustling with local growers, advertising their products shamelessly and offering samples of juicy fruits to passersby.
While researching little known facts about peaches, I came across this compilation that I wanted to share with you. It also indicates how little we know about the history of produce that tickles our curiosity:
1. The peach originated in China and belongs to the rose family.
2. The peach’s scientific name is Prunus persica.
3. There are two main varieties of peaches: clingstone and freestone. In clingstone peaches, the flesh of the peach sticks to the pit while it is easily separated in freestone varieties.
4. Peaches can be either yellow or white. Typically, the white peach is sweeter and less acidic than its yellow relative.
5. Peaches were once known as Persian apples.
6. China and Italy are the two largest peach growers in the world.
7. Peaches are nutritious as they contain 3 grams of fiber and a healthy amount of vitamins A and C.
8. Peach season runs from June to August.
9. The world’s biggest peach cobbler is made in Georgia, it measures 11 feet by 5 feet.
10. When ripe, the peach should be slightly soft to the touch and have an even coloring.
I am submitting three recipes for your cooking adventures. The first is a peach soup that is a pleasure to serve on a hot summer day. It is refreshing, tasty, not too sweet and a perfect beginning to an August barbecue or picnic.
The second recipe can be adapted for the grill or a quick sauté in a very hot pan. Fish and shellfish have a natural sweetness that is the perfect companion to peach salsa. Just make sure you add a little of the brighter spiciness with a touch of jalapeno or cayenne pepper.
Lastly, a beautiful dessert fresh out of our Italian kitchens: Baked Ricotta with poached pears in lemon verbana syrup. Light and so delicate, a more rustic version of our cheesecake, this dessert lets the fruit take center stage and shine. Lemon verbena is a herb that flourishes at the Farmers Markets during the same season as peaches and is a perfect complement to their sweet taste. If difficult to find, replace with lemon basil.
In all, a beautiful meal that can be served as is with a “Peach Theme” or each dish can be used separately with other components. My only recommendation is to act quickly as peach season does not last very long and they will be out of the Farmers Markets faster than you can blink.
Joan adds: We recently had a client at the Brentwood House whose husband grows peaches in rural Georgia. He shipped some while his wife was in treatment — they were gone before I got there to taste one. The second shipment was hand-carried and delivered directly to me. Nothing beats a fresh tree-ripened Georgia peach.
(click to continue to recipes)
Summer Peach Soup
3 cups sliced peeled peaches (about 4 peaches)
1/4 cup finely diced peeled seedless cucumber, plus thin slices for garnish
1/4 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper, plus thin slices for garnish
1/4 cup diced dried apricots
2 Tbsp agave syrup
3 Tbsp crumbled fresh goat cheese, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, plus more for seasoning
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large garlic clove
2 slices whole wheat bread cut in 1/2 inch dice
Basil leaves, for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
In a bowl, toss the peaches, diced cucumber, yellow pepper and apricots. Add the agave, 3 tablespoons of goat cheese, 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Add the garlic. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Discard the garlic. Transfer the contents of the bowl to a blender and puree. Add 1/4 cup of water and purée until very smooth and creamy; add more water if the soup seems too thick. Season with salt and vinegar. Refrigerate the soup until very cold, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the diced bread and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the croutons to paper towels and season with salt.
Pour the peach soup into shallow bowls and garnish with the sliced cucumber, sliced bell pepper, goat cheese, croutons and basil. Drizzle lightly with olive oil,
Grilled Shrimp with Peach Salsa
1 3/4 cups diced peeled peaches (about 3 large)
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice, divided
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp minced seeded jalapeño chile
2 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp oriental sesame oil
16 large sea jumbo shrimp
2 Tbsp agave
Fresh cilantro leaves
Mix peaches, red bell pepper, green onions, 2 tablespoons lime juice, chopped cilantro, jalapeño, 1 teaspoon ginger, and garlic in a small bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, and remaining 1 teaspoon ginger in a medium bowl to blend. Add the shrimp and stir to coat. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature, turning occasionally.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Whisk agave and remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice in another small bowl. Thread 4 shrimp on each of 4 metal skewers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill shrimp until they turn pink, brushing occasionally with honey glaze, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Alternatively, toss the shrimp with the glaze, place oil in a very hot pan or wok, and sauté the shrimp until they turn pick in color.
Spoon the salsa into the center of a platter. Remove the shrimp from the skewers or the pan and arrange them atop the salsa. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and serve. Accompany with steamed rice.
Baked Ricotta with Poached Peaches
Serves 8 to 10
2 1/4 pounds fresh ricotta cheese (4 1/2 cups) – see Newsletter March 2013 for recipe
2 vanilla beans—split and seeds scraped, beans reserved for another use
1 1/2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
9 large eggs
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup agave
4 cups water
3 fresh lemon verbena sprigs or 1 cup loosely packed dried leaves, plus additional fresh sprigs, for garnish (optional) can be found at your local farmers market or replaced with lemon basil.
10 ripe but firm peaches (about 4 1/2 pounds), halved and pitted
Make the baked ricotta. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 2 1/2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish with baking spray and set the dish in a roasting pan.
In a colander set over a large bowl, drain the ricotta, gently pressing out any excess liquid; discard the liquid. Transfer the ricotta to a large bowl and stir in the vanilla seeds and lemon zest.
In another large bowl, whisk the eggs and agave until smooth. Whisk the egg mixture into the ricotta until smooth, then fold in the flour and salt. Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up the side of the baking dish. Bake the ricotta for about 40 minutes, until lightly golden on top and just set in the center. Transfer the dish to a rack and let cool to room temperature, 3 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the peaches. In a large saucepan, combine the agave and water and bring to a simmer. If using dried lemon verbena, wrap in a large square of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen string. Add the lemon verbena and peaches to the saucepan. Bring just to a boil, then simmer gently over moderately low heat, turning the peaches occasionally, until just tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to a baking sheet. Let cool slightly, then slip off the skins.
Discard the lemon verbena (or basil) and simmer the poaching liquid over moderate heat until reduced to a light syrup, about 10 minutes. Strain the syrup into a bowl and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Cut the baked ricotta into squares and serve with the poached peaches and syrup. Garnish with lemon verbena or lemon basil sprigs.