No-Cook Cooking: Peaches expand options for easy summer entrées | Dining

No-Cook Cooking: Peaches expand options for easy summer entrées | Dining

The official arrival of summer and the ripening of local peaches can open up refreshing new options for easy meals — especially for folks who’d rather not cook.

No-Cook Cooking cooks already have plenty of reasons to spend less time in the kitchen than our foodie friends do, but this time of year, even more people are looking for an excuse to keep meals cool and simple. Peaches can play a sweet role in just about any meal that can get you out of the kitchen and into the pool, onto the bike trail or off to the theme park in style.

Last summer, we talked about the luscious flavors of pitted peach halves that are dipped in spiced crystal sweetness — maple sugar and cloves, or brown sugar and cinnamon — and gently grilled. That preparation still makes a delectable summer dessert, but it’s only one way to savor summer stone fruit.

Peaches also can be a tasty element in saved dishes that play up summer produce and favorite proteins.

If you’ve ever added peach slices to the bowl of raw ingredients you’ve handed to the chef at the grill in a Mongolian barbecue restaurant, you know that the only thing better than the aroma of grilled beef and peaches is the interplay of flavors once they’re on your plate — especially with a touch of sweet heat from a well-balanced chili sauce.

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Peaches also play well with shrimp, ginger and red bell peppers in a speedy home stir-fry, or with chicken, jicama and water chestnuts on a bed of shredded greens for an entree salad that balances tender and crunchy textures.

When adding peaches to an entrée salad, let your imagination and your taste buds run free. Strawberries, balsamic vinegar and mint? Certainly. Basil leaves, tomato and freshly snipped garden herbs? Sure. A bolder mix of greens, such as kale, arugula and snappy napa cabbage? Definitely. Pulled pork barbecue, shredded red and green cabbage and a red pepper-based dressing with apple cider vinegar and honey? Heaven, y’all.

Peaches also complement different nuts, so consider sprinkling almond slivers on that strawberry option or chopped cashews on the jicama combination. More assertively spiced dishes can be balanced with the milder flavor of walnuts. And if you love pecans, keep peaches in mind to enhance a praline-inspired salad that could give your guests the guilty-pleasure sense of eating dessert first.

It’s also fun to just keep it simple. Toss chunks of juicy peaches with pineapple bits, blueberries, chopped apples and honeydew melon cubes, and you really don’t need anything else for a taste of sheer summer in a bowl. The time you save on kitchen cleanup can be spent on a garden walk or in a hammock.