Peaches Poached in Basil

These peaches poached with basil may well be the perfect summer dessert. It makes brilliant use of summer’s best produce, it is easy but impressive, you can make it ahead, and it’s beautiful and unique. And the fragrance that wafts through the kitchen during poaching is magical. The beautiful globes served with a drizzle of syrup and a sprig of basil make a lovely plate, but add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or some sweetened whipped cream if you’d like. Or, try my favorite — a dollop of mascarpone blended with a little powdered sugar. Under no circumstances should you discard the excess poaching liquid. Keep the syrup in the fridge in an airtight container. You can drizzle it over vanilla ice cream, use it to sweeten iced tea, add an outstanding twist to a gin and tonic, or just pour it over ice and top with sparkling water for a real refresher. I sometimes think I make these peaches just for the syrup.
By / Photography By Fred Thompson | July 04, 2016


1 cup white wine1½ cups water

1½ cups granulated sugar

1 bunch fresh basil

6 yellow peaches

Place the wine, water, and sugar in a wide bottomed saucepan and stir to dissolve sugar slightly. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat and bring mixture to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then reduce heat, leaving the syrup to simmer.

Cut the peaches in half and gently remove the pits. Drop half of the basil leaves into the syrup then gently place the peach halves cut side down into the syrup. Poach for about 3 minutes and then gently turn over using a slotted spoon. Continue poaching for an additional 3 to 4 minutes until soft (cooking time will depend on ripeness of peaches). Carefully prick the cut side of the peaches to check for tenderness. The peels should be wrinkling up as well. You may cook the peaches in two batches if all of the halves will not fit in the pan at one time.

Remove the peaches to a plate with a slotted spoon. When cool enough to handle, gently slide the skins off and discard. Add all but about six basil leaves to the syrup and bring to a boil, boiling until reduced by about half. Remove from heat. Pour any juices that have collected on the plate with the peaches into the syrup. Cool to room temperature.

The peaches can be covered with plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for several hours. When ready to serve, place two peach halves on a plate and drizzle with the basil syrup. Garnish with reserved basil leaves.

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