Peaches and prosciutto
A box of ripe, juicy, slightly bruised peaches saved me.
I met my friends Karen and Crystal at the Piedmont Triad Farmers' Market in Greensboro, North Carolina Saturday afternoon. They were hosting a dinner party that night, and I was in charge of hors d'oeuvres. (Really good) deviled eggs were already on ice in the car, but I knew I needed another offering. Velvety prosciutto slices were also on hand (I grabbed them from the fridge that morning as I packed), but I wasn't happy with the standard melon-prosciutto pairing I'd planned. It's a classic, winning combination, but it felt too safe, a bit boring. While Karen and Crystal searched for flowers, I sought inspiration. I found it in a "fresh peaches" banner.
The rosy fruits on display were lovely but very firm, the kind that sit on the counter at room temperature for a few days before they're fit for consumption. Dinner was in 5 hours. I asked if any riper peaches were available, and the vendor waved me around the table, into the booth. "You can take as many of those as you'd like for three dollars," she said, gesturing to a box under the table. Succulent and slightly battered, those peaches weren't considered suitable for sale. I filled my bag quickly and knew exactly what would become of them.
Guests in attendance and deviled eggs on display, Crystal lit the grill while I tried to master the over-sized tongs I had to work with. I grilled the peaches — sliced, brushed with melted butter, and dusted with sugar — until they were lightly charred and soft. Piled high on a platter and tossed with balsamic vinegar, everything sprinkled with freshly chopped mint... I was satisfied. The salt and fat of the prosciutto is a perfect foil to sweet fruit, balsamic vinegar provides zing, and mint adds a fresh dimension.
Ideally you'll have ripe but firm fruit to work with if you opt to grill them — extremely ripe peaches will turn to mush. Wash peaches and remove any bruised areas with a knife prior to grilling.