Beautiful on the eye and sweet on the tongue, Chegworth Valley’s flat peaches pack a pretty punch. A little sweeter than everyday peaches, they have a hint of almond about them and work brilliantly in salads as well as desserts.
1) Peach, French Bean and Stilton Salad
Get your griddle (or frying) pan out, or use the BBQ to char your peaches to sweet perfection in this refreshing salad. Lightly boil french beans for 2 minutes, drain and dump into ice-water and drain again - this helps them to keep their crunch. Slice peaches in half lightly coat in olive oil. Place on in medium-hot griddle pan, frying pan or BBQ for 2 minutes, until they soften and the cut sides char. Put aside once done. Mix together with your hands the beans, handfuls of rocket and roughly chopped mint on a serving platter. Place the cooked peaches on top of the leave and add a few chunks of stilton cheese. Top with a quick dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and a touch of mustard and sprinkle over more mint to garnish.
2) Grilled Peaches with Mint and Honey
This makes a wonderful post-barbecue pudding, or try as a topping for breakfast over yoghurt and granola (as snapped above). Heat a dry griddle pan over a medium-high heat. Halve the peaches and remove the stones. Drizzle some honey over the fruit and place on the griddle pan, cut side down. Griddle until softened, turning regularly, every 4-5 minutes. Don’t worry if the honey starts to darken - but be careful not to let it burn. While the fruit is cooking, pick some mint leaves and slice finely. Arrange two sticky halves of the fruit on a plate and spoon over some thick cream or yoghurt. Sprinkle over a few sliced mint leaves and serve.
3) Peach and Courgette Spaghetti
A simple and flavour-packed dish, this is a great one for using leftover bits. Make ‘spaghetti’ out of a couple of courgettes using a grater or julienne peeler. Blanch in a saucepan of hot water for 2 minutes and drain. Lightly toast a handful of pine nuts in a dry frying pan until golden, for about five minutes. Pop the pine nuts (reserving a few for garnish) in a food processor with a glug of olive oil, drizzle of lemon juice and a handful of mint and basil - adjust quantities until you get your desired taste and consistency. Blend until smooth, mix with the courgettes and place on a serving dish. Crumble a handful of soft blue cheese onto a non-stick baking tray. Mix with lemon zest, honey, salt and pepper and place under a medium grill for 2 minutes until lightly browned. Stone and slice a peach and add to the courgettes. Finish by sprinkling over the cheese and top with the remaining pine nuts.
4) Peach and Thyme Pops
Four ingredients are all that’s needed to make these peachy ice pops, perfect for breaking out when the sun suddenly appears and there’s nothing sweet in the cupboards. Boil 125ml of water with 125g of sugar for 1-2 minutes to make a syrup. Stir in ½ a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves. Let the syrup cool and the thyme steep for at least 10 minutes. Blend the thyme syrup with 700g of pitted and de-stoned peaches to make a puree. Pour into lolly moulds and freeze for at least six hours, preferably overnight, and enjoy straight from the freezer.
5) Upside-down Peach and Ricotta Cake
Flat peaches are the star of the show in this sweet, fluffy cake with a cheesy edge. Heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line an 8″ springform cake tin. Pit and thickly slice widthways 2-3 peaches and place on the base of the tin. Sprinkle some lemon zest and brown sugar onto peaches. Blend 125g of ricotta with 75g of soft unsalted butter, 1 large egg, 225g of light brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Fold in 225g sifted plain flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder and gently mix to combine. Pour the batter on top of the peaches and bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool completely before opening the spring and turning out onto an inverted plate. Serve with creme fraiche and drizzle of honey for dessert, or simply enjoy with a cuppa.
See Chegworth Valley’s Flat Peaches at £2.95 per 500g in the shop