Fresh garden vegetables are one of the few reasons I look forward to the end of summer. Newly harvested vegetables are among my favorite summer pleasures, as I admire the bright colors and fresh scents of ripening plants. The sharp snap of a tomato being picked from the vine and the hard tug on the top of a buried onion remind me once again why food has become such a large part in my life. There's something unique about burying your hands in dirt to uncover the carrots hidden below—I'm always curious to see how large they have grown—or find the ripe cucumbers hidden among the plants' leaves.
Oh, don't get me started on the difference in taste...
This year I don't have a backyard garden to tend. Since moving away from home, I'm suddenly much farther from the garden in my parent's backyard than I might like. While I don't miss looking after the plants myself (I've never been much of a gardener), I do miss the rewards after a few months of hard work. I tried to start a small herb garden on my apartment balcony, but the plants died a miserable death relatively quickly, shriveling under the sunlight despite the careful watering.
The plants, now a shade of brown and death, still sit on the deck. I ignorantly hope they will come back alive overnight and surprise me by sprouting new leaves, but I have a feeling that little fantasy won't come true.
Fruit is one of my favorite parts of the summer harvest. My kitchen is often filled with several pounds of sweet berries, as they vie with the stone fruits for counter space. When I'm not certain if my stone fruits are ripe and ready to eat or still in transition, I like to roast them in the oven or cook them on the grill. Roasting fruits brings out a deep flavor and caramelizes the sugar in the fruit, creating a masterpiece out of the most unremarkable of fruits.
With a sprinkling of sugar and a dash of spice, roasted fruit can easily take center stage to a summer meal.
Maple Roasted Peaches are a sweet way to enjoy fresh summer fruit. I almost don't need to share a recipe for roasted peaches with you because they are so simple to make, but the combination of maple syrup, cardamom, and coconut whipped cream is honestly something special. The coconut whipped cream needs to be made the evening prior (or at least 8 hours before serving), so it does require a bit of thinking ahead, but you could certainly substitute the coconut whipped cream for traditional whipped cream, yogurt, or vanilla ice cream.
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Maple Roasted Peaches with Coconut Whipped Cream
Yields 4 servings
Maple Roasted Peaches
4 fresh peaches, cut in half and pitted
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, plus extra for drizzling
Pinch of cardamom
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
Brush top of each peach with maple syrup and roast for 20-30 minutes, or until peaches are fork tender.
Coconut Whipped Cream
14 ounces (414 ml) full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
At least 8 hours before roasting the peaches (preferably overnight), chill the coconut milk in the refrigerator, taking care not to disturb or shake the container. The coconut milk will separate (which is what we want). Once cold, skim the white coconut milk off the top and place into a medium mixing bowl, taking care not to include any of the clear coconut milk. You may save the clear coconut milk for another purpose (such as smoothie making). Beat in the powdered sugar and continue whipping the coconut milk on high for 5-7 minutes while it increases in volume and gets soft peaks.
Place in the refrigerator until peaches are ready (the whipped coconut milk will keep for a couple days).
To serve, dust peaches with cardamom, drizzle on a little more maple syrup, and serve with a side of coconut whipped cream.