Stonefruit are versatile and can be used for every course - and in drinks.
Peaches really seem to be at their best now that summer is in full swing. It's the best time of year for fruit, but there's more to stonefruit than just snacking on it constantly at every opportunity. Rather than just baking or using fruit for dessert, I thought I'd try to mix things up a bit.
This salad is a good one to have in your repertoire, although I know there are people out there who think fruit in savoury salads is a crime.
This combination is a great one though: creamy avocado (also great at the moment), salty, crisp halloumi cheese, a tangy and slightly sweet basil vinaigrette, and then grilled peaches. The peaches you can do either on the barbecue or in a frying pan.
With a little butter and maple syrup and a few chopped pecans, they're a luscious combination.
It's the cocktail that I'm probably most proud of though. I'd made sugar syrup with fruit before, but the peach turned into the most gorgeous blush colour. If you're feeling game you could do all three for one very peach-filled evening. 'Tis the season, after all.
Peach and thyme Tom Collins
Makes enough for 4-5 cocktails.
This recipe works best with a cocktail shaker.
For the peach and thyme sugar syrup:
1 large peach (or 2 small-med peaches)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
Cut the peach in half and remove the stone, and then cut each half into four pieces. Place in a small saucepan with the sugar, water, and thyme.
Gently heat, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat remove the thyme sprigs. Leaving the peach chunks in the syrup, set aside until ready. You can make the syrup in advance, and it will keep in the fridge about a week.
For the cocktail (makes 2):
4 chunks of peach from the syrup
6 tbsp syrup
Juice of 2 small-medium lemons
Place the chunks of peach and the syrup into a cocktail shaker and muddle well. Fill with ice and add the lemon juice and the gin. Shake well until combined. Taste and adjust lemon or syrup according to taste.
Fill two glasses with ice and evenly add the mixture. Top with soda water and garnish with additional fresh thyme.
Peach, halloumi and avocado salad with basil vinaigrette
200g halloumi, sliced
1 large avocado, sliced
2 cups rocket leaves
½ cup walnuts
For the basil vinaigrette:
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
1 scant tsp honey
½ cup basil leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
For this dressing, you can either blitz all ingredients in a small food processor, or you can finely chop the basil and then whisk with all other ingredients using a fork. Taste and adjust as necessary.
Fry the halloumi in a little oil over a med-heat until golden.
Grill the peaches on either a barbecue, griddle pan, or just a frying pan, over a high heat. Use a little oil and grill until slightly golden or charred.
To assemble the salad, scatter the ticket leaves on your serving platter. Add the avocado, peach, and haloumi. Scatter over the walnuts then drizzle over the dressing. Serve immediately.
Roasted peaches with bourbon, maple, and pecans
3-4 peaches, halved, stones removed
2 Tbsp neutral cooking oil
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup bourbon
Generous drizzle maple syrup
2 Tbsp chopped pecans, plus 2 Tbsp more to serve
Preheat oven to 180C. Line a roasting tray with baking paper, and add the oil. Place the peach halves in the tray, cut side up.
Place small bits of butter on to each peach half. Pour over the bourbon, drizzle over the maple syrup, and sprinkle over the chopped pecans.
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove and carefully flip the peaches over using tongs. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, then serve immediately or allow to cool at room temperature for up to 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with extra chopped pecans, and vanilla icecream, runny cream or natural yoghurt.