Recipes: Savory Summer Stone Fruit Salsa and Cherry Relish

Turn summer’s bounty into sweet and spicy sauces with recipes for Summer Stone Fruit Salsa with Fresh Corn and Basil and an Ancho Cherry Relish
Summer Stone Fruit Salsa with Fresh Corn and Basil Bruschetta

PHOTOGRAPHY TERRY BRENNAN, FOOD STYLING LARA MIKLASEVICS

Juicy peaches, nectarines, and plums are a highlight of summer. One of the best things to do with summer fruit when it’s perfectly ripe and the shelves at the store are filled to the brim is to simply enjoy it out of hand. That first bite at the beginning of the season is always delicious. Savor it. After that, it’s time to cook, says Twin Cities chef and Saint Paul College Culinary Arts instructor Jason Ross. You’ll immediately think of cobblers, pies and crumbles, but fruit is also delicious in savory food.

To get some of that fruit into the mix for dinner, here are a few recipes Ross developed for Real Food that balance heat and smokiness while showcasing fruit at the center of the plate. Use the Summer Stone Fruit Salsa for a variation on bruschetta, simply scoop it up with tortilla chips, or serve atop seared fish, for example. The Ancho Cherry Relish works great with grilled pork chops or pork tenderloin, or even pulled pork tacos and sandwiches. You can also use it as barbecue sauce to mix things up.

Chef’s Quick Tips

Check out these helpful hacks from Jason Ross:

PEELING NECTARINES AND PEACHES:
If you prefer peaches and nectarines without the skin, drop them into boiling water for 20 seconds. Then cool them quickly in ice water and use your hands, or a paring knife if you like, to pull the skins off the fruit.

CUTTING CORN KERNELS FROM THE COB:
Some people cut vertically down the cob to remove the kernels, which works, but the kernels tend to fall onto the cutting board, bounce around, and may end up on the floor. Instead, try laying the cobs on the cutting board horizontally and make cuts with the cobs resting on the cutting board. This might be a bigger controversy than how to eat corn on the cob-typewriter style across in rows or rotating and working around the cob?

PITTING CHERRIES:
If you do not have a cherry pitting tool, use a chopstick and plunge it into the cherry to push the pit out the other side.

Summer Stone Fruit Salsa with Fresh Corn and Basil

Makes 4 to 6 Servings

This salsa really highlights the season with fresh fruit and corn. Use peaches, nectarines, or apricots—whichever fruit is best and ripest.

2 ears corn, shucked and cut from the cob (about 1½ cups)
¼ cup minced red onion
1 tablespoon fresh jalapeño, minced (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 cups stone fruit (peach, nectarine or apricot) cut into ½-inch dice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup basil, sliced into thin strips

  1. Bring 1 quart water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the cut corn kernels to the pot and cook for 3 minutes. Pour into a colander in the sink and strain out the water. Put corn on a plate and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix the onion and jalapeño together, then add the salt, sugar and lime juice. Allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes until the onions and jalapeño soften and go slightly limp.
  3. Add the fruit, olive oil and basil, and using a large spoon, toss gently to mix.
  4. Serve immediately, or the salsa can be transferred to a sealed container, refrigerated and used on the same day.

TO SERVE:
A quick and easy way to enjoy this stone fruit salsa is to simply scoop it up with corn chips. Here are a couple additional ways to use it that will spruce up your summer table.

Bruschetta: Brush olive oil on slices of crusty bread and toast on the grill or in a pan until browned on both sides; a few minutes should be plenty. Spread ricotta cheese on the toasted bread and top with the stone fruit salsa.

Seared Fish: Season fish fillets, such as salmon or seabass, and sear in olive oil in a hot pan. Cook 7 to 12 minutes per side, depending on the size of the fish, until both sides are crispy and brown. Serve fish hot from the pan and spoon salsa over the fish. Drizzle with a little more extra-virgin olive oil.

Ancho Cherry Relish

PHOTOGRAPHY TERRY BRENNAN, FOOD STYLING LARA MIKLASEVICS

Ancho Cherry Relish

Makes 3 Cups, 4 to 6 Servings

Cherries sing in this sauce, bouncing off the smoky and earthy depth of ancho chilies. Chipotle chilies offer similar smoke but can increase the spiciness to high burn levels. You can call this a relish, but the sauce falls into the hard-to-categorize realm—is this a relish, chutney or barbecue sauce? Maybe it’s just plain delicious.

2 ancho chilies
1 cup boiled water
1 tablespoon neutral oil (vegetable, canola, corn or grapeseed)
½ cup finely minced onion
1½ teaspoons salt
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved

  1. Break off the ancho stems and split the chilies in half to remove the seeds. In a medium sized bowl, soak the chilies in the boiled water for 30 minutes, until they are softened and cooled. In a blender, purée the chilies with ½ cup of the soaking water for 30 to 45 seconds until they become a smooth paste. (Discard any remaining soaking water.)
  2. Sweat the onion in oil on medium heat in a sauce pot. Season with salt as it cooks and stir until soft and translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the ancho paste from the blender and ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat and continue to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Stir in the butter until it has melted and been incorporated into the sauce. Turn off the heat and mix in the cherries until they are warmed through, about 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Serve immediately. To make ahead, make the sauce minus the cherries and butter, and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To serve, reheat with 1 tablespoon of water and finish the warm sauce with butter and fresh pitted cherries.

TO SERVE:

With meat: This sauce works great with grilled pork chops or pork tenderloin, or even pulled pork tacos and sandwiches. Spoon the sauce over the pork, hot off the grill.

Barbecue sauce: To make cherry ancho barbecue sauce, try throwing the cherries in the blender with the ancho paste and purée until smooth. Then continue with the recipe and baste ribs or wings with the tangy sauce.

Nutrition info (per serving):
• Fruit Salsa: Calories 80; Fat 4g (Sat. 1g); Chol 0mg; Sodium 240mg; Carb 14g; Fiber 2g; Sugar 8g; Protein 2g
• Cherry Relish: Calories 180; Fat 8 (Sat. 3g); Chol 10mg; Sodium 920mg; Carb 29g; Fiber 3g; Sugar 21g; Protein 2g

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.