(July 19) Make your menu a little juicy with a few items featuring the famous summer fruit trio, especially now while your guests are hot for peaches, plums and nectarines.

Though delicate, the fruits smack of summer and bring your menu up to the minute with the seasonal flavors guests expect and enjoy.

Gather ideas from other chefs’ winning salads, entrees and desserts using the fruit.


The sweetness of a juicy peach makes it ideal for cake, fruit and ice cream, says Wolfgang Hanau, a West Palm Beach, Fla., independent chef who develops recipes for foodservice companies.

He makes a peach sauce to pour over desserts using a smooth, fruity flavor, which combines orange juice, brown sugar or maple syrup, grated orange rind and pitted and sliced ripe peaches. He cooks the mixture until the peaches soften slightly. After it cools, he purees the mixture in a food processor and adds lemon thyme.

He also makes a refreshing summer cold soup using peaches and cantaloupe. He combines and purees peeled and sliced peaches with chunked cantaloupe and lime juice. Then he stirs in minced mint leaves and chills the soup for several hours. “It’s a light soup. No one wants to eat heavy in the summer,” he says.

Hanau won the grand prize in the California Tree Fruit Agreement’s recipe contest last year for a dessert called gianduia peaches. He places an espresso-dipped ladyfinger cookie in the bottom of a dessert dish and arranges a slightly cooked peach half on top. Then he beats heavy cream into soft peaks, folds in corn syrup and blends the mixture with mascarpone cheese. After spooning the blend on top of the peach, he garnishes it with hazelnuts and cocoa dust and drizzles melted giandiua chocolate on top.

If you have to peel a peach, put down the paring knife and the potato peeler. Instead, drop the fruit into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, and then transfer it to cold water. The skin easily peels away.

Jerry Gander, food and beverage manager for Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., used his imagination to create an easy, fun recipe — an award-winning almond crusted pork loin with peach chutney. The chutney combines yellow and white peaches with red and green bell peppers. “The color combination of these ingredients has great eye appeal to invoke your senses,” Gander says. To complete the chutney, he adds rice wine vinegar, jalapeno peppers, salt and pepper.

“Today’s consumers demand more than hamburgers and taco salads at restaurants. They want creative, colorful and tasty rather than butter and fat. American’s like things natural,” he says.

He also makes peach ketchup, which combines firm and ripe peaches blended with regular ketchup, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. He cooks it all together, purees the mixture and strains it. After it sits overnight, the resulting ketchup is a flavorful sauce for pork and chicken dishes, he says.


July and August are banner months for California plums. Use them in pies, puddings, stewed fruit, preserves, jellies and jams.

For other cooking options, consider using them scalloped, poached or sliced into salads. They also work well served with ice cream, slaw, sherbet and cake. Experiment with them in sauces and glazes.

As a pastry chef, Alexandra Jersyk Ricciuti with Gallia in Boston likes to expand her baking options using summer fruit.

She likes to surprise people with plum upside-down muffins in which she caramelizes plums and brown sugar and pours the mixture into greased muffin tins. Then she whips up a cake batter and pours it over the top and bakes it. “When you turn them out, you have individual plum upside-down cakes,” she says.

Plum waffles are a tasty breakfast option, she says. Prepare a waffle batter and fold in diced plums and brown sugar. The plums caramelize when they come in contact with the waffle iron, creating a delicious flavor. Serve the waffles with vanilla maple syrup and fresh plums.

Gander with the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort uses plums in his almond crusted pork loin recipe. He creates a paste by cooking plums with aja mirin, salt and pepper.

In their dried form, plums — or prunes — have a unique combination of high levels of pectin, sorbitol and malic acid, which makes prune puree an ideal fat substitute in baking.

While you’re working with the season, find other morsels guests would expect in the summer and add a plum twist. For example, consider a simple watercress, smoked trout and plum salad. Start by adding watercress to a dressing of vinegar, oil and salt. Then divide the salad among serving plates and arrange trout fillets and plum slices on top. Finish it off by drizzling the remaining dressing on top.

You can find that recipe and others on the Reedley-based California Tree Fruit Agreement’s Web site at www.caltreefruit.com.


Since nectarines are plentiful in July and August, find ways to add them to pastries, bread recipes, main-course meats, poultry and fish dishes, grain dishes, salads and desserts.

Nectarines add a fresh summer twist to chicken salad, says Loren Lee, an independent caterer in Waco, Texas. She developed a tasty chicken and nectarine salad with basil aioli in which she uses white nectarines. She cuts chicken into large chunks and mixes it with toasted almonds and pecans. Then she cuts up white nectarines the same size as the chicken chunks and mixes it all together with a commercial mayonnaise to which she adds basil, lemon juice, ginger and garlic.

Lee prefers nectarines to peaches for this recipe because of the more meaty texture of nectarines. A peach might be too juicy to work with in this way, she says.

The summer fruit works well in blended drinks and as a waffle topper.

Turn a nectarine into a dessert by stuffing it with a tasty filling. Ricciuti with Gallia makes a pistachio nectarine dessert. She poaches a nectarine in wine and honey and stuffs it with a combination of chopped toasted pistachios, honey and bread crumbs.

Find ways to add a summer flair to menu items that guests might not equate with higher temperatures.

For example, pork chops aren’t necessarily a summer item, but consider broiled pork chops with nectarines. Sprinkle pork chops with coriander, cumin and pepper, then pour a mixture of vinegar and rum over the top. After you cover and refrigerate them overnight, place them on a broiling pan with nectarine halves on top. Then broil them for a few minutes until the chops are done and the nectarine halves are heated through. This CTFA offers this and other recipes on its Web site.