When life gives you peaches, make salad, dinner and dessert.
Chefs across Colorado are preparing a range of menu items for this year’s bumper crop of Palisade peaches. Good weather during the growing season has resulted in an unusually productive harvest.
While most of Colorado is too hostile for fruit production, Palisade’s microclimate and natural air drainage allows peaches and other stone fruits to flourish.
Below, three prominent Colorado chefs share a favorite peach recipe and talk about the joy in cooking with the juicy local favorite.
Executive Chef & Owner - Bin 707 Foodbar
Only 24 minutes from their peach supplier High Country Orchards, cooking with the stone fruit is about as local as it gets. And that’s just how Josh Niernberg wants it.
"I really try to use local and Colorado ingredients as a way to build our economy,” said Niernberg. "It lets us be able to showcase what the Grand Valley has to offer, which is really unique."
Niernberg said it was difficult to find local fruits, vegetables and meats when he started the restaurant in the late 2000s -- but he kept at it.
"It’s become more easy," he said. "And the quality of the products just continue to get better. It's just kind of the cornerstone of what we do, what we always have done."
His favorite aspect of peach season is the customer response.
“It's totally appreciated as something that is as special as it is,” he said. “For me, the most rewarding part is to be able to execute them in someway that will be memorable for our guests."
Heirloom tomato and Palisade peach salad
Note: Blaine's Tomatoes are prized on the Western Slope; we use “pineapple” and “green zebra” tomatoes for the salad, but any great ripe tomato will work. High Country Orchards' Palisade peaches are available at select high end grocers throughout the state. Hazel Dell cinnamon cap mushrooms are grown in Fort Collins and are a long stemmed, small (3-4mm) cap brown mushrooms, but any mushroom could be substituted.
In a bowl, whisk miso and vinegar until incorporated. Slowly drizzle the oil while whisking to emulsify.
To prep fruit:
Wash well and dry thoroughly. Slice both the peaches and tomatoes in half vertically (remove pit and discard). Then slice each half into thirds lengthwise, then half each piece horizontally. This will give you uniform sized pieces of roughly 1 sq/inch ea.
In a bowl lightly toss peaches and tomatoes in the vinaigrette (plate immediately).
For something a little extra: sprinkle toasted puffed rice over fruit for texture.
Executive Chef & Owner - Fruition Restaurant
Alex Seidel not only uses local ingredients in his restaurant, but creates his own too. He is the owner of Fruition Farms, the only registered sheep dairy and creamery in the state.
"I get excited about every ingredient I use," said Seidel. "Colorado is a place that certainly produces some of the best ingredients of its kind.”
Added to the menu in time for peach season is their grilled tender belly pork chop with beignets, using his farm’s ricotta, along with a Palisade peach marmalade and peach salad.
“That dish is just oozing with localism,” Seidel said.
Seidel’s other restaurant, Mercantile, has a booth at the Union Station farmer’s market where fellow vendor Morton’s Orchard are carrying ripe peaches.
"The greatest thing about being at the markets is knowing the most about the produce and the people that grow it," Seidel said.
Grilled tender belly pork chop with ricotta beignets, Palisade peach marmalade and arugula and peach salad
Yield: 2 quarts (enough for 8 chops)
Corn & Fruition Farms sheep's ricotta beignets
Spicy peach marmalade (w/ star anise and ginger)
Chef de Cuisine - The Kitchen
Palisade peaches have only been available for a short time, but they’re already being sliced and diced in David Engel’s kitchen.
"I already have them on my menu,” he said. “I started last week as soon as the call went out that the first shipments were coming in; I jumped right on top of that."
Like Niernberg, Engel recognizes that by focusing on local ingredients, he’s supporting the community.
“Our whole goal has been about community through food,” Engel said. “And it's not just the people who work in the restaurants; the guests that come in and dine, and also the farmers that we deal with too that are part of the community.”
Unlike buying ingredients from a California produce supplier, Engel is able to see how his purchases are impacting the growers, like their peach grower Ela Family Farms.
And besides, Engel said, Colorado's peaches are just really, really good.
"Other peaches around the nation, they just don't compare to the Palisade peaches; how beautiful they are, the flesh of them, the sweetness of them,” Engel said. “You just can't beat it.”
Peach cobbler with cream
This cobbler is delicious when peaches are in season! It is also a very adaptable recipe in that you can exchange any in-season fruit for the peaches.
1. For the filling, peel and cut the peaches into quarters. Toss in the sugar and orange juice, let macerate and then begin the crumble topping.
2. Sift all dry ingredients together. Add in the zests and loosely combine the liquids with the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.
3. Find a baking dish about 12 x 9 and fill the bottom with peaches. With a spoon spread the topping, making an even layer over the top. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25-30 minutes until nice and golden brown. Once finished you can top with cold cream or crème fraiche and serve.