One of my favorite children’s novels is “James and the Giant Peach”, written in 1961 by British author Roald Dahl. There have been several different illustrated versions of the book over the years, plus a film and musical of the same name. The plot centers around a young English boy who became orphaned and went to live with 2 mean, old aunts. To escape, he enters a gigantic, magical peach, and by eating bites of the delicious peach, has a wild and surreal cross-world adventure.
Whenever I bite into a Maine-grown peach, I think of James. Intensely fragrant, perfectly ripe, sweet and juicy, with velvety, red-blushed skin and soft orange flesh, peaches are the third most popular fruit in America. (Right behind apples and oranges). How fortunate that James got to tour the world while eating this fruit!
The early homesteaders planted peach trees up and down the eastern seaboard, establishing the fruit so firmly in the United States that botanists in the mid-1700’s assumed that the peach was native to America. Food historians theorize that the peach tree originated in China and was introduced into the Middle East and Europe centuries before the Spanish explorers brought it to the New World
We’re fortunate that there is an abundance of fruit this year, and I’ve been experimenting with different culinary methods, including firing up the grill. The sweet and smoky grilled peach is a delicious foil for grilled salmon or halibut, and makes into a luscious salad with spicy greens and your favorite creamy goat cheese.
The method for grilling peaches is quite simple: split the peach in half, remove the pit, brush liberally with olive oil, and grill over medium heat until tender. When cool, the skins slip off easily, leaving the delectable, melt-in-your mouth fruit to enjoy.
Our first batch of peaches we grilled up with some corn and sausages, making a simple, easy and elegant supper. Then when the tomatoes started ripening, I prepared a Grilled Peach Salsa. Adapted from a recipe found in the world community cookbook Simply in Season, this salsa was a keeper. Fresh, fruity, and delicious, serve Grilled Peach Salsa with chips, or as sauce for grilled fish, chicken, or meat. Enjoy!
GRILLED PEACH SALSA
- 5 – 6 peaches pitted, grilled and diced, about 2 cups
- 4 large tomatoes seeded and diced, about 2 cups
- 1 ½ jalapeno peppers about 3 tablespoons, more or less to taste
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons Chopped fresh cilantro
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- Wash the peaches. Using a sharp paring knife, cut along the seam on the outside of the peach. Twist the peach in half. Remove the pit with a small spoon.
- Brush the peach halves with olive oil.
- If desired, seed (and peel) the tomatoes. Cut into evenly sized cubes and add to a large bowl.
- Wearing gloves, cut the jalapeno peppers in half and remove the seeds. Chop finely and add to the bowl.
- Preheat the grill to medium high. Grill peaches face down for 5 minutes, then flip over and grill until skins start to darken. Remove from heat and cool.
- Slip the skins off the peaches. Dice. Add the diced peaches to the bowl.
- Finely chop the cilantro and add to the bowl. Stir in the honey, and season the salsa with fresh pepper and sea salt.