Have I told you how much I love summer? And no, it’s not because that’s when everyone lays out in the sun and spends weekends at the beach. I tend to think those activities only lead to leathery skin and weekdays of discovering just how much sand one can actually get stuck in the orifices they can only see with a hand mirror. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.
Instead, I love the summer because that’s when pitted fruits are ripe with their sweet-sweet ambrosia that bursts in our mouths with the slurp of each bite. White peaches, yellow peaches, cherries, white nectarines, apricots, plums, pluots, dinosaur eggs (look them up) and more….I love them all. There’s something about their sweet and tangy flavors, delicate interior flesh, thin exteriors, and overall juiciness that I can’t get enough of. They’re also really easy to eat. Sorry oranges…we still love you.
When it comes to the king of the pits, white peaches, I’m normally focused on finding creative ways to highlight their sweet and delicately acidic flavor profiles– the easiest of which is to just add sugar. So I tend to bake a lot of tart tatins with them, or puree them with liquors and simple syrup for sorbets, or I’ll even freeze them and blend them with ice and tequila to make a margarita that’s a little outside the caja (box for you non-Spanish speakers). But the other night, I was feeling adventurous and I wanted to use what was left of my white peaches for a savory meal. Besides, I only had a few minutes to whip something up for dinner, because I had committed myself to couch-potato-ing the rest of the evening away to a Real Housewives of Orange County marathon. And for the record, as much as Jonathan says he doesn’t watch, he sits there through every minute of each episode and comments the entire time!
Grilled White Peach & Goat Cheese Paninis
*makes 2 sandwiches. Double the recipe for 4
- 2 large white ripe peaches (not too ripe and still a little firm)
- 1 tblsp olive oil
- 4 tblsp plain goat cheese (any soft kind or chèvre will do)
- 2 square pieces of focaccia bread
- 1 cup arugala washed and spun dry
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tblsp of garlic aioli with Sriracha (optional)
To make the garlic aioli with Sriracha, just add a ½ tsp of Sriracha sauce to 2 tblsp of garlic aioli and set aside. If you don’t have garlic aioli, you don’t want to make it from scratch, just press two large garlic cloves through a garlic press and mix that with 2-3 tblsp of mayonnaise and finish it with a splash of lemon juice (this is a poor man’s garlic aioli).
Here’s a great recipe for making your own homemade focaccia bread. It will take you a few hours from beginning to end, but it’s totally worth it. There’s nothing better than fresh focaccia bread right out of the oven, and an entire tray
of focaccia can be used for lots of sandwiches, or as crunchy croutons in a salad, or frozen for future use. I think it’s worth it, but it’s up to you.
Turn your Panini press on so it can get nice and hot. If you don’t have a Panini press, you can use a George Foreman grill or even a BBQ grill. If you use a BBQ grill, just be careful to lay the peach slices perpendicular to the grate so they don’t fall through, and be careful it doesn’t get too hot and destroy the delicate fruit.
Slice the peaches into 2 halves running the knife from the top of the peach to the bottom and back again on the other side. You basically want to run the knife around the pit until you can pull the 2 halves of the peaches apart easily. Gently wedge the pit back and forth until you can remove it cleanly from the peach. Slice the peaches into 4-5 wedges per half, making sure their not too thin because you don’t want them to disintegrate on the grill.
With a pastry brush, coat the surfaces of the peach slices with a good tasting olive oil and then salt and pepper them to taste. Grill the white peach slices on the Panini press for about 4 minutes total, or until they’ve started to brown and caramelize. Once you can see grill marks and the grilled peach slices are noticeably softer, remove them from the Panini press and set aside.
With a serrated bread knife, slice your focaccia bread through the middle creating a top and bottom that are roughly the same thickness. Spread 1 tblsp of goat cheese on the inside of each piece (2 tblsp per sandwich). If you’re using the Sriracha aioli then spread ½ tblsp over the goat cheese on the top piece of focaccia bread.
Place a single layer of the grilled white peach slices on the bottom half of each sandwich. Then top the grilled peach slices of each sandwich with ½ cup of peppery arugala and top that off with the top piece of focaccia bread with the goat cheese and Sriracha aioli if you’re using it.
Place the entire grilled white peach sandwich on the Panini press and let it heat up and come together for at least 5 minutes or until you’ve got the desired grill marks on your bread and the goat cheese is gooey.
Remove the grilled white peach sandwich from the Panini press and let it cool for a few minutes before cutting it in half and taking a big messy bite! The sweet and tangy grilled peaches and the creamy goat cheese pair really well with a nice crisp white Sauvignon Blanc or Albarino.
The first sandwich was so good I decided to make another one, this time using manchego cheese instead of goat cheese. It was also delicious!
- We’re always looking for ways to add pork to our dishes, and with this Panini it would be easy to add some prosciutto for touch of smoky salty goodness.
- Instead of the sriracha aioli, you can add a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar to the sandwich to bring a little acidity to the sandwich.
- If you wanted you can grill yellow peaches (non-white), white nectarines, and regular nectarines for this dish. You can even try roasting strawberries if you want, but their season tends to be winding down as the pitted fruits are at their peak.
- Adjust the Panini press so it’s gently pressing on the sandwich, because too much pressure will just cause some of the grilled peach slices to spill out of the Panini.
- If you don’t want to make your own homemade focaccia bread (which you have to try at least once!) then you can certainly use store bought focaccia or any other bread that can be sliced into a ½ inch thickness like ciabatta roll or sliced of a good country white. Just make sure it’s something that isn’t too delicate and will fall apart.
Check out our previous post titled Guy Savoy & the Lost Art of Storytelling
- Friggin Focaccia! With Roasted Tomatoes & Onions
- Big Bottoms & Buttermilk Biscuits. Any Questions?
- I wish my dog were constipated