Each fruit and vegetable has its moment in the seasonal sun, from ramps in spring to squash in fall. But there’s nothing more glorious than a summer peach.
After all, eating a juicy peach is like tasting a summer’s day. And they’re hardly sweeter or more beautiful than when plucked from a tree on a warm morning, found for sale at the farmers market a few hours later.
But as with any seasonal favorite, the challenge is how to use a bumper crop. Sure, you can eat peaches out of hand or grill them to serve with pork. Or you could cast them in the starring role.
Which is the goal of our second annual Small Bites Throwdown. We challenged two of our food bloggers, Arlen Gargaliano, below left, and Maria Reina, below left, to create recipes that showcase peaches. Gargagliano created a peach salsa and Reina came up with a Italian sandwich called tramezzino. We’re asking you to vote for your favorite.
On the Small Bites blog on LoHud.com, you can view videos of Gargagliano, who writes the “Latin Twists” posts, and Reina, a personal chef who writes the “Seasonal Chef” blog, preparing their recipes, and cast your vote. Or, you can watch the two bloggers demonstrate their recipes at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Hastings Farmers Market. I will be there to emcee the cooking demo, and we’ll be passing out samples of the competing dishes. Take a taste and cast your vote. We’ll announce the winner Aug. 21.
So why peaches? To celebrate the seasonal cooking we all love to do — but in a fresh way. Anyone can make a peach cobbler taste great in the summer; we wanted to showcase the talents of our creative bloggers.
Reina, who also blogs at bellacucinamaria.com, says she was inspired by her time in Italy, when she’d go out to little neighborhood bars that would serve nibbles.
“Not just tiny bowls of pretzels and nuts,” she says. “The bites could range from slices of cheese and olives to foccacia topped with all sorts of ingredients. But in particular they served something called ‘tramezzino’ (tramezzini is the plural). These tasty little crust-less sandwiches come in many varieties, tuna being the most popular.”
For her little sandwiches, she combined peaches and a savory bell pepper spread, then topped each with a thin smoky slice of speck and crunch of almond.
“I like taking sweet things and making them savory,” she says. “I think peaches and bell peppers are a great combination, so I thought why not turn them into an Italian-inspired bite?”
Gargagliano, who has written several cookbooks on Latin food and drinks and owns the new Mambo 64 restaurant in Tuckahoe, says she chose salsa because it’s an adaptable, versatile way to serve the garden’s bounty.
“Summer also inspires grilling,” she says. “I’m always looking for a balance of flavors and textures — and a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. This salsa, part grilled and part fresh, combines some of my favorite ingredients: peaches, avocados, roasted peppers, lime and cilantro. This very versatile salsa can be scooped up with your favorite chip, served atop a piece of grilled fish, meat, grains, grilled vegetables, or over your favorite fresh salad greens.”
Try the recipes yourself. Watch the videos on Small Bites. And, if you can, come see — and taste! — our bloggers’ dishes. And be sure to cast your vote in the Small Bites Throwdown by clicking on the poll below or on the sidebar of the blog, to the left.