A million things are in season now (though my little tomatoes are taking forever to turn red this year, sadly), but when I think of July, I always think of peaches.

Peaches — what a lovely, almost tropical-tasting fruit that grows wonderfully here in the Mid-Atlantic. My father loves picking peaches by the bushel in July, though I’m not a fan of the heat, and greatly prefer apple picking in September.

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Peaches can be tricky to determine their peak ripeness, because if you try to eat them too soon, the flavors haven’t quite fully developed. Then again, miss that peak by more than a day and a half and you’re likely to have a mushy peach. But that’s one reason why I like cooking with peaches — after adding a little heat or acidity, they’re transformed into an end product that will be just as delectable as if you had found the one perfectly ripe peach in the bushel.

First up, I have this recipe for a peach tart. It’s kind of like a no-bake cheesecake with lime juice and peach pieces—the smaller you dice them and the more evenly distributed you can get them in the filling, the better. Then you arrange sliced peaches, strawberries and blueberries on top for a beautiful, natural, edible garnish. How lovely.

Next, I liked this peach and prosciutto salad. It’s not much of a recipe in that the measurements of ingredients aren’t very specific, but a salad doesn’t need exact specifications. After all, if you’re mixing up a bowl of salad, there’s no guarantee that every tong-full out is going to have the same ratio of ingredients. This salad mixes fresh peach, prosciutto, tomato, goat cheese, berries and the seeds and nuts of your choice over mixed greens. It makes for a beautiful and refreshing starter, or main dish if you add an extra protein.

For a heartier dinner, I recommend these pork chops with peaches and basil. You brown the pork chops, then remove them from the skillet, then caramelize some onions in the pan, then make a sauce with some peach halves, peach jam and a little white wine, adding the pork chops and basil back in at the end. If you can’t find peach jam, use apricot preserves. Maybe make extra sauce to use on chicken the next day.

And finally, for a gourmet breakfast at home, I chose these whipped ricotta and roasted peach toasts. This reminded me of avocado toast, which is still quite popular on brunch menus, but I love the idea of whipped ricotta being used as your creamy base, which then gets a sweet and savory rush from the roasted peaches and a drizzle of honey. And it will be way cheaper than that avocado toast out.

Enjoy!

Sweet peach tart

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 stick butter, melted

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup key lime juice

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 peaches (1 peeled, 1 unpeeled)

3 strawberries

1/2 cup blueberries

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Tiny mint leaves for garnish

Pour graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of a tart dish. Add melted butter and mix well with crumbs. Create crust by firmly pressing crumbs with hands into sides and bottom of dish. Place crust in refrigerator while making filling.

In a mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Slowly add lime juice and beat well until there are no lumps. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until creamy.

Peel and dice one of the peaches and add to the filling. Pour creamy filling onto graham cracker crust and refrigerate one hour until set.

After one hour, thinly slice the other unpeeled peach. Drizzle a little lime juice over peach slices to prevent browning.

Slice strawberries. Leave blueberries whole. Arrange fruit on the tart as you wish. Add mint for garnish.

Peach prosciutto salad

1 yellow peach, cut into 6 wedges

4 ounces goat cheese

6 slices prosciutto

1 tomato, cut into 6 wedges

½ cup nuts or seeds, optional

Mixed greens

A variety of mixed fresh berries

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh tarragon, for garnish

On a large platter, lay out a bed of mixed greens. Arrange the other ingredients on top, starting with the largest pieces and working your way down to the smallest ingredients on top.

Serve with a vinaigrette on the side. Serves 2.

Fresh peach and basil pork chops

2 thick-cut, bone-in pork chops

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium sweet onion, sliced

1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc

1/2 cup peach jam

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 medium peaches, pitted and halved

1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly torn

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper.

Place butter in a cast iron skillet and set over medium high heat. Once the butter has melted and is popping, add the pork chops and sear well on both sides. Cook the chops until they reach 140-145 degrees. Depending on the thickness of your chops, this should take about 5 minutes on each side.

Remove the pork chops from the pan and set aside for now. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to the pan and cook, stirring often until the onions are deep brown and caramelized. This should take roughly 5-7 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with Sauvignon Blanc, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits of flavor from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 2 minutes, then stir in peach jam and vinegar.

Add the peaches to the pan cut-side-down, and simmer for 5 minutes, until the peaches have just begun to soften.

Return the pork chops to the pan and simmer for 5 more minutes; until the internal temperature reaches 155-160 degrees.

Just before serving, sprinkle the pan with fresh basil. Serve immediately, along with roasted potatoes, if desired. Serves 2.

Whipped ricotta toast with roasted peaches

5-6 medium peaches

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or olive oil)

2 tablespoons raw turbinado sugar (or regular sugar)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole milk ricotta

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Drizzle of honey

Fresh mint to garnish

Preheat oven to 425. To a baking sheet, add a piece of parchment paper.

Slice 6 medium peaches. Place the peaches on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle melted coconut oil on top and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar and a pinch of salt. Gently toss to combine and make sure each peach is coated.

Roast the peaches for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.

In the meantime, add 1/2 cup of whole milk ricotta to a medium bowl. Add juice of 1/2 of a lemon as well as a drizzle of honey. Whip the ricotta vigorously for 1 minute.

Once the peaches are done, toast the bread to your desired liking. Load it with the whipped ricotta cheese, peaches, a drizzle of honey and fresh mint. Serves 4.

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