I really want to tell you these peaches came from a trip to an orchard with my angelic kids or the local farmers’ market, but that would be lying. Because although I had every intention of going to the farmers’ market the other night after the camp and daycare pickup, the 5pm meltdown I was faced with in the car made that… unappealing. Dragging tired, cranky kids with me so I could fawn over gorgeous produce just seemed foolish. So luckily I had stopped during my lunch hour the day before at some random grocery store for a quick fruit run, and I scored a few peaches carted in from a state far away. Ideal? No. But real life? Yes. And the basil, you ask? Growing freely in big bunches in my yard? Ha. It too came from the store in one of those dreaded plastic clamshells. I may see myself as the CSA box girl, creating wild creations from whatever lands in my neighborhood pickup every week, but the honest truth is that year after year I keep forgetting to sign up. So in the meantime, I make do with what I’ve got. Lunch hour peaches. Welcome to my world.
But look at these peaches!!! They were pretty perfect on their own, because it is summer after all and it’s prime season for them. Straight up, they’re delicious. But with a little extra effort, they become heavenly. Halved and filled with a buttery brown sugar and basil concoction, they’re roasted for just 20 minutes and transform into a simple summer dessert that makes everyone happy. Okay, you’re shaking your head because I said roasting and summer in the same sentence, and you remember me just telling you about my ancient hot house where the last thing I want to do is turn the oven on in August. But wait! I have something that may blow your mind… You can just use your toaster oven!
I started making this recipe nine years ago, when I saw this life changing article in the New York Times by Melissa Clark. (I know, my version of life changing might not be yours, but go with me on this.) It was called “No One Ever Slaved Over a Hot Toaster Oven.” I was living in my tiny Manhattan apartment at the time, which barely had a kitchen to speak of. My actual oven served as my version of storage, and all of my pots and pans and baking sheets made a home there. The idea of emptying it out to cook anything small seemed like a waste, and the risk of heating up my apartment during a New York summer was beyond me. (Confession time: today my oven still is filled with muffin trays and baking sheets, even though I technically have room elsewhere for them. So I continue to face the same self-imposed obstacles. Please tell me I am not alone in this!) But Melissa turned me on to using my toaster oven to cook real food, and not just make frozen waffles and cinnamon toast in it. It was revolutionary. I started baking chicken, and roasting vegetables and making these amazing peaches all on my counter top. I haven’t looked back since….