Vail Simply Seasonal column: Delicate nectarines rival the peach
Palisade may be the peach capital of Colorado, but other stone fruits love the climate there, too. Cherries, apricots, plums and nectarines each share the limelight during the few weeks they’re at ultimate ripeness.”Peaches and nectarines are so similar in flavor, they can be used interchangeably in recipes,” said Bill Fitzgerald, pastry chef at Restaurant Avondale. “Nectarines have a smooth skin, which some people prefer to the peachs’ fuzziness.” Oddly enough, one can often find both fruits growing on the same tree. The origin of the nectarine can be traced back to ancient China, and with its short shelf life, only traveled as far as the Mediterranean regions in its early days. The Greeks are credited with the name, citing the tantalizing juice of the fruit was “nectar of the gods.”The delicacy was not cultivated in the U.S. until 1942, when California developed the Le Grande variety. This nectarine was hardier and able to be transported without spoiling. Today, there are more than 100 varieties of nectarine, in freestone and clingstone varieties. In freestone types the flesh separates from the pit easily, while clingstone types cling to the pit. Allow nectarines to ripen at room temperature for a day or so, then keep refrigerated for up to a week. Handle gently as the nectarine bruises easily.The delicate nectarine thrives in the late summer of western Colorado. Pick up a few at your favorite roadside stand and see why it rivals the Palisade peach.Marinated pork chops with grilled nectarines1/4 cup balsamic vinegar1/4 cup olive oil2 tablespoons honey1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary2 pounds thinly sliced boneless pork loin chops3 nectarines, halved and pittedFresh rosemaryWhisk together first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Add pork chops and turn to coat. Marinate for 1 hour, turning occasionally. Grill pork on medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until done. Grill nectarines 1 minute on each side or until nice grill marks appear. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs. Serves 6.Bourbon-bathed nectarines2 pounds fresh nectarines, pitted and quartered4 tablespoons bourbon4 tablespoons water4 tablespoons brown sugardash of cinnamonToasted pecans, chopped4 puff pastry shellsVanilla ice creamPlace four puff pastry shells on a baking sheet and bake according to package directions. Cool completely. Combine nectarines, bourbon, water and brown sugar in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Cook until nectarines are tender, 5-15 minutes, depending on size of slices. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon. Cool. To serve, divide nectarines and sauce amongst the pastry shells. Top with ice cream and pecans. Serves 4. Nectarine raspberry crispTopping:3/4 cup all purpose flour3/4 cup quick-cooking oats1/4 cup sugar1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/4 teaspoon salt1/8 teaspoon cardamom6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightlyFruit:2 pounds nectarines, halved, pitted, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices1 1/2 pint fresh raspberries (or blueberries)1/4 cup sugar2 tablespoons cornstarchVanilla ice cream, for servingFor the topping: Mix flour, oats, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cardamom in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and mix with a fork until mixture comes together in small clumps.For the fruit: Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a large glass or ceramic baking dish. Combine the nectarines, raspberries, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl; toss to blend. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit. Bake until fruit mixture is bubbling and topping is golden brown, about 50 minutes. Cool 20 minutes. Serve with ice cream.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa. Avondale (www.avondalerestaurant.com ) opened in September 2008 and features straightforward, seasonal American cuisine in a stylish, social setting with views of Beaver Creek Mountain and the Eagle River. Contact email@example.com.