Colorado peaches are a treasure. Grown on the spectacular western slope of the state, the peach blossoms sometimes, some years, encounter spring snows, freezing the blossoms and wiping out the seasons’ harvests. So those blooms that make it, create a sublime peach that knows both cool night temperatures as are par usual, as well as soaring summer heat, sweetening the silky fruit into perfection.
Fiercely loved here in Colorado. Accept no substitutes! (Unless you must.) All I can say is, we are in heaven right now, just kicking in to the Colorado peach season.
The first peaches I have laid my hands on this season are from Palisades, over on the very western border of Colorado and Utah. And they are fine, fine peaches. But my heart knows that the epitomy, the very Holy Grail of peaches are from Paonia.
I’ll be heading to Paonia mid August, and I am truly gladdened. The heighth of the peach season, not to mention all other things organic, and Colorado wine country good – will be at their peaking, glorious apex.
When I bought this first big bag of peaches, I came home and rinsed one and immediately ate it. Over the next two days, that continued, and then. And then – my memory was jogged and I recalled dreaming up a grilled peach caprese salad. It was the perfect day to make it.
And so, without further ado, the recipe.
Grilled Colorado Peach Caprese Salad
For a variable number of servings … how hungry are you? And more importantly, how much do you love peaches?
- 2 perfectly ripe peaches ( the peach “gives” when you squeeze it gently)
- a nice handful, a light bed of arugula leaves, rinsed and shaken off
- 1 tangerine sized knob of fresh mozzarella – I used ovolini
- 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 tbsp. butter
- a few sprigs of fresh basil leaves
- smoked paprika to garnish
- 1 marigold flower, rinsed and shaken dry
- fresh pepper if you like
Wash, then slice peaches in half, then into rounds, carefully removing the pits. If peaches are ripe, this will be very easy. Arrange arugula leaves in a pinwheel pattern on a large dinner plate or small platter. Slice fresh mozzarella into thin rounds. Remove largest leaves of basil from stems, saving the choicest sprig of leaves for a center garnish.
Heat stovetop or outdoor grill to medium high. Brush grill with butter, or. alternatively, melt butter and brush the peach slices. Grill quickly, lifting each slice and turning a quarter turn, for the diamond shaped grill markings. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add balsamic vinegar and maple syrup, and bring to low boil, lifting pan and swirling the quickly thickening caramel. Set aside.
Arrange grilled peaches and mozzarella slices atop the arugula, tucking basil leaves here and there. Drizzle maple balsamic caramel with a spoon in rapid spins over the beautiful plate. Sprinkle with a gentle shower of smoked paprika, then scatter marigold petals over the top. If you like, finish the plate with a flourish of freshly ground pepper.
Perfect for an outdoor picnic at dusk.
Do try this very easy, absolute stunner of a summer dish. My good wishes for a magical summer are with you!