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The Vegetarian

A Dish That Benefits From Mushy Peaches

August 27, 1987|DIANE SHAW | Shaw is free-lance writer in Los Angeles.

Food fights occur fairly often at my table, so I was braced for battle the other night when talk turned to the quality of the season's produce. This year's melons, plums, berries and sweet corn were declared delicious without dissent. I wish there had been some debate, though, over peaches, because I might have learned where to find a good one. Sadly, each of us had made enough fruitless forays in search of a decent peach to agree that the pickings have been the pits.

Here's a dish that actually benefits from mushy peaches. Tangy with mint, this soup is a cooling accompaniment to something spicy, like a curry of mushrooms and seasonal peppers.

MINTED PEACH SOUP

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, chopped

4 cups sliced, peeled, very ripe peaches

1 1/2 cups orange juice

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced

Melt butter in saucepan. Saute onion until translucent. Meanwhile, puree peaches in blender or food processor. Add orange juice and blend.

Add flour to onion and stir to make roux. Add peach puree and whisk until smooth and thickened. Add 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste.

Transfer to bowl and sprinkle with fresh mint. Refrigerate 3 to 5 hours or overnight. Stir before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

MUSHROOM-PEPPER CURRY

1 white onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, crushed or pressed

2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, grated

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 green pepper, chopped

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

1 yellow or orange pepper, chopped, optional

2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 pounds button mushrooms, washed and trimmed

Juice of 1 lemon

1 medium-size tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled and chopped

Fresh cilantro, minced, for garnish

Hard-cooked eggs, chopped, for garnish

Plain yogurt

Raisins

Dry-roasted unsalted cashews

Unsweetened flaked coconut

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet. Saute onion, garlic and ginger until onion is translucent. Add turmeric, cumin, coriander and cayenne. Stir to blend. Add green, red and yellow peppers and continue cooking until tender.

Add tomatoes and stir until they cook down slightly. Add mushrooms, stirring to coat with tomato and spices. Add lemon juice and a little water, if necessary, to prevent sticking.

Add apple, then stir and cover. Cook 15 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Check often to avoid burning. Let rest, covered, 10 minutes before serving.

Pass garnish of cilantro, hard-cooked eggs, yogurt, raisins, cashews and coconut at table. Makes 4 servings.

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