Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub

I declare this the summer of shrubs! Not the lawn “decoration.” No, the delicious, refreshing and fizzy fruit/vinegar drink that’s popping up at coffee shops and restaurants around the country – a call back to a common drink popular during America’s colonial era.

Simple to make and a perfect way to  store your summer fruit for months on end, here’s our recipe (yup – it’s another Drought Friendly Recipe from me and Super Sous) for a Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub.

 

Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub

Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub

Yield: 28-ounces shrub mix

 

1½ pounds ripe yellow peaches, pit discarded, diced large (3 large peaches)

1 cup organic granulated sugar

1 tablespoon orange zest

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

30 medium basil leaves, bruised with your fingers

½ cup white wine vinegar, plus more to taste

 

Add diced peaches and sugar to a large bowl. Mash the peaches with a potato masher until mostly pulverized and the sugar is fully dissolved. Stir in the orange zest, orange juice and bruised basil leaves.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring once, after 1 hour.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the mixture, pressing on the solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible.

(Use the solids in your next smoothie!)

Stir in the vinegar. This beautiful liquid is your “shrub” mix.

Transfer shrub mix into a bottle or jar, close to seal, and store in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy.

Serve one part peach shrub mix for every four parts sparkling water.

Garnish with basil leaves and a few thin slices of peach.

Note: You can make it “adult” by adding a shot of alcohol, like whiskey or vodka.

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Sweet Pickled Cucumber and Fennel Salad

The perfect make ahead salad. The longer it sits, the better it tastes!

Sweet Pickled Cucumber and Fennel Salad

Sweet Pickled Cucumber and Fennel Salad

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

 

3 persian or Japanese cucumbers, cut into 1/8-inch rounds

½ fennel bulb, cut into 1/8-inch slices

2 medium shallots, cut into 1/8-inch slices

¼ teaspoon crushed red (chili) pepper flakes

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

7 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup water

1 cup rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)

½ cup distilled white vinegar

¼ cup toasted white sesame seeds

 

Mix all ingredients, except toasted sesame seeds, together in a medium bowl.

Cover and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To serve, strain and discard the liquid and divide the salad onto plates. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Italian Bread Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

It’s a classic and beloved Italian dish – panzanella – and once you try it, you’ll know why. Croutons soaked in extra-virgin olive oil and diced summer tomatoes. What more could you ask for? How about some bacon?! I like to add crispy prosciutto to my salad. It adds some texture and, of course, lots of flavor. Either way, this is the perfect salad for the summer. I mean, who’s to argue with the Italians? Capisce?!

 

Italian Bread Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

 

Italian Bread Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

Yield: 2 servings


1 1/2 cups large hand torn croutons from Sourdough bread (crusts removed)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 slices prosciutto, torn into medium pieces

2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar

4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 small shallot, diced small (3 tablespoons)

¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

1 large tomato, diced medium, seeds removed and reserved

1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced on a bias

1/4 cup green olives, pits discarded and chopped roughly, optional

8 medium basil leaves, hand torn

 

Place an oven rack on the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, toss to combine the hand torn croutons with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

Spread the croutons and prosciutto pieces on a parchment lined sheet tray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the croutons are toasted, but still soft in the middle and the prosciutto is crispy. (You may have to take out the croutons before the prosciutto.)

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, add the vinegars, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the tomato seeds. Close the lid and shake vigorously until well combined.

Place diced shallots and oregano in a small bowl. Using a tea strainer, strain the vinaigrette over the shallots so the tomato seeds do not combine with the shallots. Discard the tomato seeds.

In a large bowl, gently fold to combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, olives (if using), basil, croutons and the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide onto plates, drizzle each plate with olive oil and top with some of the crispy prosciutto pieces.

P.S. The quality of olive oil is always important, but especially in a salad where you can really taste its flavor. I’m partial to my favorite brand, Lucini Italia. Their olive oil is perfectly balanced and their vinegars are excellent as well. It can be found at most grocery stores or you can buy it online – in bulk!

Quick and Sweet Pickled Shallots

Pickled shallots are just one of those things that add a special “something” to your dish. Whether it be a burger or a salad, it’s that extra punch of flavor that can turn a great dish into an awesome one. And, with a recipe like this, you can have said awesomeness in a flash!

Quick and Sweet Pickled ShallotsQuick and Sweet Pickled Shallots

Yield: ½ pound of pickled shallots

¾ cup water

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ pound shallots, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices

1¼ cup distilled white vinegar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Place shallots in a medium bowl.

Heat water and sugar together in a small sauce pot until sugar is melted. Pour over shallots and add vinegar and salt. Mix together.

Cover, refrigerate and let sit, the longer the better. I usually wait at least 4 hours before I find the flavor of the shallots to be pickled, but I’ll admit I have thrown them on a burger after only 1 hour of waiting!

Store, sealed, in the refrigerator. They should last at least 1 – 2 months, but many more, like your other opened pickle jars in the refrigerator.