Celebrating peach month

August is national peach month, and appropriately so. Across the nation, peach trees are being harvested for the sweet stone fruit that is always a summer cookout favorite. Online culinary arts program students may not know this, but the peach has been around since 1000 B.C.. This old culinary staple has spent thousands of years developing into more than 700 varieties, while chefs have been continuously using the fruit for various baked goods.

The peach varieties that have been brought from Europe to America are now ripe on the tree. Restaurants are taking advantage of the fruit and using it in many creative ways, in addition to the traditional peach cobbler and pie. Savory dishes featuring peach are in vogue this season, and a few recipes are listed below for you to try.

If for some reason you happen to prefer nectarines to peaches, go ahead and use them instead. Nectarines are actually a type of peach that have been bred to not have a fuzzy skin.

Grilled peaches
There are a variety of recipes with which you can use grilled peaches. The one listed here is simple, and can be served as an appetizer or a palette cleanser between courses.

2 ripe peaches
4 tablespoons of mascarpone
​1 cup of balsamic vinegar
Sprigs of fresh mint

Start by scraping down your grill – you want to make sure that the grilled peach flavor is the star, not meat reside from your last barbecue. Cut your peaches in half, pit them, and brush them with light oil. In a pan, saute your balsamic vinegar until it is cooked down to a syrup-like substance. Heat your grill and place the peaches, flesh-side down, onto it. Cook on each side until browned. Top each grilled peach with a dollop of mascarpone, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a sprig of fresh mint.

Peach salsa
This Food Network recipe can be served with any white meat, or even served as a chip dip for a party.

1/2 red onion, diced
2 peaches, halved, pitted and diced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toss all of these ingredients in a bowl, let sit for at least one hour so the flavors can blend, and serve.

The peach in Chinese culture is a symbol of luck, abundance and life. Take this symbol of prosperity to a backyard barbecue, or enjoy it in your own at home.

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