There’s nothing better than eating a perfectly ripe peach, hunched over the kitchen sink, with the juices dripping down your arms. But let’s face it, that perfect peach moment is hard to achieve, even during the height of summer. This recipe makes perfect peaches truly heavenly and the ones that are less so, close to divine. This dessert is light and refreshing and gets better after a long rest in the refrigerator, making it perfect for a summer dinner party. Do yourself a favor and seek out freestone peaches for this recipe, as they are much easier to pit and slice than clingstone varieties.
- Use the tip of a knife to slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. In a large bowl, rub the vanilla seeds into the sugar with your fingers until well combined and fragrant, add the vanilla bean pod as well. Tear the lemon verbena leaves in half and crush them with your fingers to release their fragrance and oils. Add them to the sugar then whisk in the wine.
- Wash and gently scrub the peaches to remove some of their fuzz. Slice the peaches in half to remove the pits, then slice each half into 1⁄2-inch wedges, adding the wedges to the wine mixture as you go. The peaches should be completely submerged in the wine mixture. If they aren’t, either move them to a smaller container or top off the mixture with a bit more wine. Cover and refrigerate at least overnight and up to two days. Stir the peaches occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. The peaches will become more flavorful as they sit. Serve about one peach per person in clear glasses topped with a bit of the chilled wine syrup and a dollop of cream, if you like.
- Use any leftover peach-scented wine syrup to make a refreshing spritzer: fill a glass with ice, then fill it three-quarters full of wine, and top the whole thing off with a splash of sparkling water and a lemon twist. Cheers!
Reprinted with permission from Sweeter Off the Vine, by Yossy Arefi, copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Yossy Arefi