3 stone fruit recipes to replace peaches when they’re out of season

Chef Jeffrey Gardner
Summer Stone Fruit Salad with Blue Cheese and Pecans

Peaches are unquestionably one of the most popular fruits available during summertime in the South; unfortunately, bad weather occasionally leads to a shorter growing season and peaches with tougher textures, so when good peaches aren’t available, other stone fruits can be delicious and versatile replacements.

Nectarines, plums and apricots with varying levels of sweetness and tartness and can work well in recipes where peaches would normally star. Try these tasty recipes that show some love to the more neglected members of the stone fruit family. 

Summer Stone Fruit Salad with Blue Cheese and Pecans

Serving nectarines, plums and apricots in the same salad allows their individual personalities to shine. With a foil of salty, funky blue cheese, the sweetness of each fruit becomes amplified, especially in the presence of the balancing duo of lemon juice and honey. Don’t forget to toast the pecans before incorporating them into the salad. The intense nuttiness brought on by toasting adds a warmth and richness to an otherwise cool and refreshing salad. I particularly love the versatility of this salad: You could serve it as an appetizer, an accompaniment to grilled meats or even as a light dessert or cheese course.

Plum and Tomato Salad with Ricotta

Plums come in many different varieties, each with their own distinct flavor. When shopping for plums at the supermarket, you’ll likely encounter both red and black varieties. Red plums have a golden flesh and tend to be more tart than black plums, with their sweeter, crimson flesh. For this salad, either plum would work; however, I prefer the sweetness of the black plums, especially against the spice of the serrano peppers. The ricotta salata is optional, but the saltiness of the ricotta salata, paired with the fresh milk flavor of the creamy ricotta, is a delightful combination.

Apricot Mostarda

Offering a delicate sweetness and mild acidity, apricots rarely dominate a dish with their own flavor. With a little manipulation, you can transform apricots into your go-to fruit for condiments and sauces. Add a mostarda -- basically a cooked fruit jam, augmented with mustard (apple cider vinegar and piquant mustard bring additional sharpness to this amazing condiment). Cook the mostarda until the fruit breaks down and the vinegary syrup reduces enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. As the mostarda cools, it will tighten up significantly. Serve with something simple, such as grilled pork or roasted duck breast.