Summer is the time when sweet stone fruits like apricot, peach, plum, and nectarine are piled high in farmer's markets and grocery stores, and who can resist them? I love these botanical relatives of the rose family in their fresh, straight-forward form, but I think I love them even more when roasted. This sauce, with the body of a compote but puréed like a coulis, is my riff on the "Fig Compote" recipe from Kim Boyce's award-winning cookbook "Good to The Grain". By extending her idea a bit further and adding extra maple syrup, fresh herbs, and a spin in the blender, the compote becomes a silky sauce with many sweet or savory applications. Stone fruits aren't the only soft fruit that would work for this recipe; varying the herbs or spices lends an endless palette to experiment with as well. How about plums and sage? Or mango and cilantro? How about substituting unsweetened chocolate for the butter, added after roasting the fruit in the maple syrup and as it cools in the bowl? I could go on, but I think you get my drift; this roasted fruit sauce provides another enticing excuse to play in the kitchen.
Roasted Fruit Sauce
1/2 pound ripe peaches, or other stone fruit, such as apricot, plum, or nectarine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons grade B maple syrup
A pinch of sea salt
1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, minced (feel free to experiment with other fresh herbs or spices as well)
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest, lightly packed
Gently rinse and dry the stone fruit. Cut the fruit in half and remove the large stone or pit from the fruit. Cut the fruit into quarters and cut the quarters in half. (If you're using a smaller-sized fruit, just cut into halves and quarters).
Preheat the oven broiler on high. On the stove-top, melt the butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of the maple syrup, the fruit, and stir to coat.
When the syrup and butter begin to bubble a little, place the cast-iron pan in the oven on a rack about 6 inches from the broiler. Stir every 2 minutes to keep the butter mixture from scorching, for a total of about 10 minutes, until the fruit is very lightly caramelized. The melted butter and maple syrup will have thickened slightly as well. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
Pour the roasted fruit and sauce into a heat-proof bowl, and add the minced herbs, the lemon zest, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. Stir to combine and let cool for another 5 minutes.
Pour the roasted fruit mixture into a high-powered blender, and purée until smooth, about 15 seconds or so. Use as is on your favorite food or transfer to a glass storage container and refrigerate for future use.
Makes a little over 1/2 cup