When people ask me what's the secret to getting good food on the table fast, I always tell them I make sure the pantry is well-stocked with a variety of go-to foods that can do double-duty for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Broth in tetra packs, jars of marinated vegetables, rices, pastas and more. Herbs should always be fresh — even the dried ones — and success can always come from a can. Modern canning practices help foods maintain their highest level of health benefits.
Foods liked canned peaches are excellent because the canning process helps them maintain higher levels of vitamin A,C and folic acid. As well, when cooked they maintain their shape and firmness better than fresh or frozen.
Here's a selection make-ahead meals that take a handful of ingredients and are guaranteed to please the fussiest eaters. All recipes courtesy of California Cling Peach Board.
Sweet Chili Chicken and Peach Wraps
Instead of tortillas, try this gluten-free alternative. They’re easy to make, a super way to use leftovers and customize to your own taste. Thai sweet chili sauce (usually gluten-free, but read the label) is found in the ethnic section of supermarkets as are the rice paper wraps.
- 1-1/4 cups (300 ml) cooked chicken, cut into strips
- 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) Thai sweet chili sauce
- 1 (14 oz/398 mL) can cling peach halves or slices, in fruit juice concentrate or light syrup, drained and patted really dry
- 8 large rice paper round wraps
- 4 very small leaves Boston or leaf lettuce, torn in half
- 3-inch (7.5-cm) piece cucumber piece, cut into julienne strips
- 1/2 small red pepper, cut into julienne strips
- 8 to 12 mint leaves (optional)
- Additional Thai sweet chili sauce for dipping
Have all your ingredients prepared. In a small bowl, stir chicken with sweet chili sauce. Fill a pie plate with warm water. Lay a damp smooth kitchen towel on the counter. Thinly cut peach halves into slices or use peach slices. Working with 1 wrap at a time, dip in warm water until it is just pliable, 20 to 40 seconds. Place on kitchen towel. Place 1/2 a lettuce leaf near bottom of circle. Place 2 peach slices on top of lettuce, followed by 1/8 of chicken, then 1/8 of the cucumber and red pepper and 2 to 3 mint leaves depending on size.
Fold bottom (edge closest to you) of rice paper wrap over filling towards centre. Fold in sides to slightly cover filling. Then roll to totally enclose filling and form a roll. Set seam side down on a cutting board. Repeat with remaining ingredients. If sending for lunch, leave whole. If serving as an appetizer, slice in half diagonally. Serve with additional sweet chili sauce. Best eaten right away but if storing, make sure they aren’t touching each other as they will stick. Cover with barely damp paper towel, then seal tightly with plastic wrap.
Makes 8 rolls
Peach, Goat Cheese and Basil Flatbread Pizza
Don’t know what to make for dinner tonight that you can also take to work the next day? This might become your go-to recipe. Simply keep the spice blend za’atar* in the house (available at large grocery, speciality or Middle Eastern stores).
- 2 naan, about 9-inches (23-cm) each or 1 thin pizza crust, about 11-inches (27.5-cm)
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) olive oil
- 1-1/2 tsp. (7 ml) za’atar spice*
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) creamy goat cheese
- 2 slices prosciutto, cut into strips
- 2 canned cling peach halves, cut into thin slices, well drained and patted dry
- 4 pitted black olives, cut in half
- 4 fresh basil leaves, shredded
Preheat oven according to package directions for naan or pizza. Brush tops with oil. Sprinkle each naan with 1/2 tsp (2 ml) za’atar or pizza with 1 tsp. (5 ml) za’atar.
Place on baking sheet. Dollop evenly with goat cheese. Then scatter with prosciutto, peaches and olives. Bake according to package directions, until crust is hot and cheese is melted, about 2 to 4 minutes for naan and 6 to 8 minutes for pizza.
Remove from oven. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tsp (2 ml) za’atar and basil.
Makes 2 servings for naan or 2 to 3 for pizza.
*Za’atar is a blend of dried thyme, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds. Sometime ground cumin and salt is added.
Cling Peach and Prosciutto Puff Pastry Snack
The saltiness of prosciutto marries well with the sweetness of peaches.
- 1 14-oz (398ml) can sliced cling peaches
- 1 pkg. (397g) frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 cup (250ml) sour cream or creme fraiche
- 1/2 cup (125ml) diced red onion
- 4 to 6 thin slices prosciutto or Serrano ham, cut into thin strips
- 1 tsp. (5ml) lime juice
- Fresh basil, tarragon or oregano leaves or springs of fresh rosemary (optional)
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Drain peach juice into a small saucepan. On lightly floured surface, roll half of puff pastry into a rectangle, measuring about 12 by 9-inches (30 by 23cm) Place on a baking sheet and score pastry, about 1/2-inch (1cm) all way around edges. Repeat with remaining puff pastry. Divide, then spread sour cream over pastry to cover.
Chop peaches, then sprinkle over sour cream along with onion and prosciutto. Bake in preheated oven, until pastry is a deep golden brown, rotating baking sheets halfway through, 25-35 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring peach juice to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer until reduced to a glaze-like consistency, 4 to 7 minutes. Stir in lime juice. Brush over baked pastry (you will not need it all.)
Garnish with fresh herbs; serve with crisp green salad.
Individual Peach Pavlovas
Sounds really fancy but this dessert is super simple. And the peach can is ideal for tracing your circles for the meringues.
- 1 (14 oz/398 mL) can cling peach slices in fruit juice concentrate or light syrup, drained well
- ½ cup (125 ml) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) cornstarch
- 2 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 tsp. (0.5 cm) cream of tartar
- 3/4 tsp. (4 ml) white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) vanilla
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) whipped cream
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) vanilla or honey flavoured Greek yogurt
- Icing sugar and cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 300F (160C). Line a baking sheet with parchment. Using a pencil, and the peach can, trace 4 circles on parchment paper. Then flip parchment paper over. You should still see the circles.
In a small bowl, whisk sugar with cornstarch. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar on high, just until they hold soft peaks. While continuing to beat, add sugar mixture about 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) at a time. Beat in vinegar and vanilla. Continue to beat until eggs whites are glossy and stiff.
Divide mixture evenly among circles. Usingback of a spoon, gently spread mixture using circles as a guide, about 31/2 inches (8.5 cm). Create a depression in centre, leaving about ½-inch (1-cm) rim all way around. Depression will hold cream and peaches. Bake in preheated oven until set, about 40 minutes. Turn off oven, prop oven door slightly and leave pavlovas in oven about 40 more minutes. Cool completely on a rack.
Beat cream in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold in yogurt. Sweeten if needed. Spoon into pavlova’s depression. Top with peaches. Dust with a combo icing sugar and cinnamon.
Makes 4 servings
NOTE: To save time, you can purchase ready made meringues and fill with yogurt and peaches.
Moroccan Chicken with California Cling Peaches
This recipe can only be described as fast, flavourful and fabulous!
- 1 Tbsp. (15ml) olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 lb. (500g) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 Tbsp. (15ml) finely grated ginger
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tsp. (10ml) ground cumin
- 1 tsp. (5ml) each paprika and cinnamon
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. (1-2ml) hot red pepper flakes
- 1 can (14 oz/398 mL) sliced cling peaches, drained
- 1 small sweet potato, cut into small bite-size pieces
- 1 can (14 oz/398 mL) diced plum tomatoes
- 1/2 cup (125ml) water
- 1/2 cup (125ml) Kalamata olives, pitted
- 1/2 tsp. (2ml) salt
- 1/3 cup (75ml) currants or raisins
- Pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. (30ml) pinenuts, toasted
- Chopped cilantro
Heat oil in a large wide frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink. Stir in ginger, garlic and seasonings. Add peaches, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and their juice, water, olives and salt. Stir. Bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally until potato is soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in currants, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over couscous or rice, sprinkled with pinenuts and cilantro.
Serves 3 to 4