Food & Nutrition

Three-Speed Dinners: Peaches

How sweet it is! Here’s how to get summer’s most succulent treat into two phenomenal salads and a spicy chicken stew.

Peaches are in! Now! They won’t be back until next year. And they’re one of the finest bits of summer: juicy, sweet, and utterly irresistible.

Of course, eating a fresh peach from a farmers’ market (or even better, off the tree) is one of life’s quieter pleasures. But we’ve got a few ways to make the most of the harvest.

But first, a word about selecting the best. There’s really only one way to know about a peach: your nose. Don’t worry about color. Hold the fruit up and breathe in. If it doesn’t smell like a sweet, tantalizing peach, it probably won’t taste like one. Of course, it shouldn’t be too mushy in the hand. But don’t squeeze. Just notice its skin for blotchy patches. It may even be a little green at the stem. The whole answer is in its aroma. If it smells great, buy it and be ready to cook with it today, maybe tomorrow. Peaches don’t last. And refrigeration can dull the flavors.

Yes, you can ripen harder peaches in a sealed paper bag on the counter. Even so, they won’t be as good as the ones your nose can find at the market.

And our first dish, the chopped salad, needs the best you can find. These peaches combine with a host of summery produce to create abundance on the plate. After that, we’ve got two more dishes—a grilled salad and a slow cooker stew—that can use the peaches that aren’t perfect for eating. In fact, for these dishes you want peaches that smell sweet and ripe but are a bit firmer so they don’t turn into mush over the heat.

Just don’t miss out! We’re crazy about peaches. Can you tell?

About the 20-Minute Chopped Salad with Peaches

Here’s a chopped salad that’s far beyond the ordinary, packed with summery goodness. The trick is to chop everything into fine bits: no more than 1/2-inch pieces, about the size of an olive pit. You want to be able to get lots of everything on every spoonful! Ready to start cooking? Click here for the recipe.

About the 40-Minute Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad with Buttermilk Vinaigrette

There’s nothing like grilled peaches! And there’s nothing like grilled peaches with a little tangy buttermilk, unless it’s mixed with some thyme. Well, we’ve got it all in this stocked salad, a great summer meal that tastes fresh and light, even when the temperature soars. Cultured buttermilk (rather than natural buttermilk) works better because the cultured product is thicker and creamier. Ready to start cooking? Click here for the recipe.

About the All-Day (Slow Cooker) Caribbean Chicken with Peaches

A slow cooker mellows the highs and lows of flavor beautifully—even when there are sweet peaches and spiky chilies in the mix. However, use the lesser amount of sliced chilies the first time you make this saucy stew if you’re unsure about heat levels. Best of all, you can freeze servings in individual containers for light lunches on the go. If desired, serve over wilted chard or steamed collard greens. Ready to start cooking? Click here for the recipe.