Monday, May 28, 2007

The Great Stone Fruit Debate

Consider the nectarine. It gets no respect. Virtually identical to the peach, its clean-shaven curves and sweetly tangy flesh have never earned American cultural kudos.

Has the nectarine EVER been celebrated in a collection of colloquialisms like peachy keen, peaches and cream complexion, peach fuzz and just peachy? Has it EVER been the key ingredient in a famous dessert? Has it EVER had a song named after it? Even the tangerine has spawned a handful of memorable tunes over the years.

I am just as guilty of this slight as any of us. I’ve made pit stops at the peach bins in farmers’ markets, reached for the canned peaches on grocer’s shelves, and carpooled to the countryside to pick peaches from ancient orchards.

In all fairness, though, it is difficult to find an admirable nectarine recipe anywhere. There are plenty of variations of peach pies, cobblers and ice creams, but I had to dig very deeply to find one that would showcase the two flushed, golden orbs casually arranged in my fruit bowl. While I could easily have just switched out the peaches in any of the recipes, I did hold fast to my commitment to elevate the nectarine to its greatest glory. It was a given that a Chez Panisse creation would fit the bill: split, plump fruit halves, stuffed with cake crumbs and nuts, stewing in their own syrupy, rosy juices.

I think you will agree, for a nectarine, this is one peach of a dessert.


Pistachio-Stuffed Nectarines - Adapted from the Chez Panisse Recipe

Ingredients

2 ripe nectarines, cut in half, stones removed
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/8 cup sugar
1/3 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachio nuts
1/4 cup pound cake or sponge cake crumbs


Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Arrange nectarine halves in a baking dish, cut side up. In a small bowl, cream butter with sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg yolk, then stir in remaining ingredients. Divide mixture evenly among nectarine halves, lightly mounding it into center of each with a small spoon.

Bake on center rack of oven for 30 minutes or until nectarines are plumped and juicy, and the stuffing is browned.

Serve immediately.

Makes 2-4 servings. –

This post is being submitted to Jeanne of Cook Sister!, one of the hosts of the popular Waiter, There's Something in My... This month's event features the theme of stuffed fruit or vegetables. You can catch the full round-up here.


31 comments:

christine (myplateoryours) said...

Hey, I LOVE nectarines. When I was a kid the fuzz on peaches felt weird in my mouth, so I was a nectarine girl from the start. NEver had any as beautiful as these, though!

Lucy said...

Elegant. Simple, elegant and mouthwateringly good.

The best thing about nectarines is that you don't have to peel them before you bite into them - unlike the peach with it's fuzzy coat of down. Did you know that I'm related to that Melba woman? How funny...;)

Susan said...

Thanks, Christine. I grew to tolerate the peach fuzz, but as a kid, I always enjoyed the nectarine best, too.

Lucy - Thanks. They were quite good, and yes, simple. It's too bad we can't get too many varieties of nectarines compared to peaches. A white nectarine is a thing of beauty, hard to come by, though not impossible.

Christina said...

I think perhaps the reason for the lack of nectarine recipes is because they rarely make it to the kitchen. I've got to say, a good, ripe white nectarine is better than most things even Chez Panisse can whip up, but your recipe looks pretty close to perfection. Yum.

kathryn said...

This is a lovely recipe, I'm feeling very disappointed our nectarine season is over for another year. I've never thought to put pistachios and cake crumbs with stone fruit before. Thanks for this.

Foodie Froggy said...

Mmmmhh, I wish I will be able to have a meal at chez Panisse next summer when I am in SF !!

Freya and Paul said...

I prefer nectarines because I don't like the fuzzy skin of peaches (makes my teeth itch) but I love the flavour of both and I adore them stuffed like this!

Johanna said...

I adore nectarines and love seeing them written about so wonderfully - now I wish it was summer in Australia - although I love them fresh and don't do much baking with them - I think you are right about so many references to peaches and not nectarines - but E tells me there is a band called the Nectarine Number Nine (in Edinburgh)

Susan said...

Thanks, Christina. Glad you know the joys of a white nectarine. I can't wait to start scouring the markets here.
--
Thanks, Kathryn, and welcome! Our nectarines won't be ready for several more weeks, but the CA ones used in this recipe were quite good for trucked fruit. It's nice of you to come for a visit.
--
Hi, Anne. San Francisco, west coast capital of great food. You will have a marvelous time whether your first trip or return. I look forward to your posts when you get back to Paris.
--
Thanks, Freya. It's unanimous so far. No one is fond of the fuzz, but the flavor....
--
Thanks, Johanna. I stand corrected. Of course, I am all too curious now about a band that would have a "Susan" song. : )

Patricia Scarpin said...

Susan, not only your recipes and photos are mouthwatering, your texts are delightful too! :)

I love this recipe. I like nectarines a lot but have never thought of how left aside they are. Good to know they have such a wonderful cook to fight for them :)

Little Foodie said...

Hello, I clicked on you from Freya & Paul's blog. I prefer nectarines too, the taste and texture much better than a peach. This sounds delicious!
Amanda

Susan said...

You are the sweetest, Patricia. Thanks so much. There is one more left. I'll just barely re-heat it in the microwave, then my husband and I will flip a coin for it.

Welcome, Amanda. I think we have enough nectarine fans to sign a petition now! Thanks for visiting. Hope to see you again.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I am so making this Susan! My fiancee loves Nectarines and he absolutely ADORES pistacchios. So this is sure to be a huge hit!

Cynthia said...

Let me be frank with you here. :D You were doing so well, rallying the troups about the nectarine and we were all feeling shame-faced and guilty and then, that last line in the post messed it all up. You said, and I quote: "I think you will agree, for a nectarine, this is one peach of a dessert" !!!

What's that about huh? Let the nectarine have it's moment in the light, let it shine, let it stand alone and receive the applause. Let it just be. (LOL)

Shaun said...

Susan - How right you are! I love to eat nectarines, but I NEVER think of ever cooking with them or pairing them with anything. "Chez Panisse" is a great source of inspiration; their "Fruit" book is the ultimate on the subject as far as I am concerned, but I have not yet read Jane Grigson's.

Susan said...

Hi, Jen. Hope you enjoy the applause! I know I'll be making this until the crop runs out.

Cynthia - I was waiting for someone to scold me. My bad. :}

Shaun - I haven't read Grigson's book, either, but I'm sure it deserves its own spot with my vaunted old guard cookbooks.

bee said...

beautiful. 1/3 egg yolk? never seena recipe with that little. i hate yolk, but i can live with that. :-)

Susan said...

Thanks, Bee. It's just enough yolk to bind the small amount of stuffing, but you could use silken tofu or soy milk instead.

sra said...

What awesome photos, Susan! From your pix, I think this is what I've been thinking of as oversized plums - I've been seeing them in some stores over the last two years!

Jeanne said...

I love the vaguely rude pic of the nectarine... :o) But then I'm immature that way!

I adore nectarines - I love their smoothness, their colour and they bake beautifully. This was one of my favourite emergency desserts in South Africa - just simply roasted with butter and brown sugar and served with a dollop of mascarpone. Yours look absolutely fabulous!

Susan said...

Sra, thanks so much. Now that you know what they are, maybe it's time to give them a try.

Hi, Jeanne. You must mean the rude nude! More an artistic eye than an immature one, I'd say. : ) Thanks for your kind words. I know your round- up will be great.

Terry B said...

I've neglected nectarines for a while, but there were a couple of summers when peaches seemed to go from baseball-hard to mealy-mushy overnight, and nectarines became my go-to stone fruit.

Lydia said...

Truly elegant dessert. Nectarines are my absolutely favorite stone fruit. I put them in green salad, along with blue cheese and cucumber, and they add just the right amount of sweet-tart flavor and texture.

Susan said...

Welcome, Terry. You are absolutely right. Sometimes peaches do not ripen properly. Some varieties are better than others, but I think it depends when they are picked. If they
haven't gotten enough sun, but too much rain, they tend to disappoint. It's good to see you here. Thanks!
--
Thanks, Lydia. That salad is making my mouth water. What a great combination of flavors!

Nora B. said...

Hi Susan, nectarine gets my vote. I prefer them to peaches because nectarines have a slight sour/tangy tastes that makes it so moreish. Alas, I have to wait at least another 4 months before stone fruits are in season again in Sydney....

Susan said...

Hi, Nora. Welcome. I like that tang, too. We've got to wait about 6 weeks more for the local harvest, but I well know what it's like to wait for months. Canned fruit just can't cut it. Thanks for visiting!

Johanna said...

just a quick response to yours that you 'stand corrected' - i think you are absolutely right to say people usually write about peaches - only someone like E with an encyclopaedic knowledge of music could know of this band Nectarine Number Nine! And as for songs with susan - the only one I can think is 'wake up little susie' which we used to sing to my sister susie a lot - but I am sure E could tell me more!

Dragon said...

Hi. I found you at tastespotting and loved your photos so much I had to come by and vist. Hello!

I adore nectarines but I'm allergic to pistachios. Would you recommend any other nut?

My Sweet & Saucy said...

What a great summer time dessert! So healthy and refreshing sounding!

Kevin said...

Those stuffed nectarines look good!

Susan said...

Johanna -- Leave it to E to know the nuances of obscure & funky music. : )
--
Welcome, Dragon! Thank you. You can use almonds with the same great results. Very good to see you!
--
Thanks, Sweet and Saucy! It is a perfect summer sweet. No point in not taking advantage of the harvest while we have it.
--
Thanks always, Kevin!