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
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
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.
Makes 2-4 servings. –