19 Sep

Peaches are everywhere! But not for much longer in Ontario. This is the last month this tender and juicy fruit will be gracing our trees so at the peak of September I wanted to post this recipe to encourage you all to use them while you still can. Delicious in oat cobblers, morning breakfasts, and just plain fresh on their own, this is a dinner recipe to inspire you to see the savoury side of peaches and widen their breadth of use.

The portobello mushrooms are first marinated in olive oil and sweet balsamic vinegar and grilled until tender and concentrated in flavour. The peaches are reduced and glazed in maple syrup and these warm compotes are layered on fresh salty goat cheese and savoury thyme sprigs that complement the sweet-and-salty flavour of this dish and hearty rye bread. I chose to complement these burgers by adding a side serving of totally simple baked sweet potato wedges and instead of the old and unhealthy commercial ketchup combination, I’ve whipped together a tasty oil-free vegetable mayonnaise that is quick and delicious cold.

Mushrooms decrease both fat and cholesterol in the blood and help discharge the excess residues of accumulated animal protein. They are a good source of interferon, a protein that appears to induce an immune response against cancer and viral diseases, especially stomach and cervix.

Peaches are the perfect summer fruit: cooling and astringent it tends to limit perspiration and builds body fluids, two important elements for the heat of summers. Peaches are high in Niacin, Vitamin A and in Vitamin C complex. Peaches are also one of the highest pesticide-load carrying fruits, if you don’t buy organic. As a category, peaches are treated with the highest number of pesticides than any other fruit, adding up to 57 different chemical combinations. And this isn’t analyzing just a select number of suppliers – in fact, over 4 out of every 5 conventional peaches that you purchase will register multiple pesticides.

Besides the indisputable environmental benefits of organic farming over the application of pesticides to our depleting soil levels, which is an essential element to growing and sustaining any sort of food supply, pesticides are cumulative and will concentrate in organs and your tissue, which is especially problematic for children, who are smaller and weaker than the adults who are usually the ones feeding them. Many of the pesticides sold on our markets are able to pass regulation due to the definition of “negligible risk” instated in the legislation. “Negligible risk” in this context is calculated on annual unit consumption basis. Whereas regulators may determine that the pesticides in peaches only pose a negligible risk if you eat 20 per year, what happens if you stumble across a bounty of peaches one summer and eat one each day for half the summer, thus consuming 60 peaches in a year? Because regulators cannot accurately describe each and every one of our eating habits, in eating non-organic produce that normally has high levels of pesticide residue, year after year, the loads accumulated in your body can become serious and may cause cancer, cell mutations, reproductive issues and the growth of tumors. Pesticides, in mass amounts, have wiped out thousands of people and maimed over 200,000 in just one example of an industrial pesticide-manufacturing accident in the world. Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) cites that surviving species of insects are developing major resistances to insecticides, which has become an additional serious health problem. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), insecticide use is up over ten times since World War II and yet crop loss due to insect damage has doubled from 7% to 14%. For a country that produces a large portion of the world’s food supply, 14% in crop loss is a major fear as a food security crisis looms in the near future.

Fortunately, most farmers in the world (who also happen to be located in mainly non-developed countries) by virtue of sheer numbers, are organic farmers, and countries such as Indonesia and Sweden have moved towards banning and reducing pesticide use since 1989 respectively. For those of us in developed countries, and thus in privileged positions spending less than 10% of our incomes on food compared to approximately 75% for the poor, we should be leading the world example by supporting organic farming and research dedicated to improving the technology behind it.

grilled portobello, peach + thyme goat cheese burgers on rye
makes 4 burgers

rye flour buns
See orange citrus + pumpkin seed rye buns for the recipe that I used.
The dense, dark German rye bread from your supermarket would also work well here.
If using large loaves, cut the slices into squares or halves to serve as buns that are easy to handle.

grilled add-ins
4 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
4 tsp olive oil
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt + pepper

2 peaches, pitted + diced
4 tbsp water
2 tsp maple or agave syrup
2 tsp chia seeds

8 cherry tomatoes, halved
soft, unripened goat cheese for spreading
sprigs of thyme

1. In two approximately 10 inch x 10 inch squares of aluminum-foil, divide equally the peaches, water, maple syrup and chia seed, and place in the centre of each square. Fold up the foil corners and pinch together to resemble loosely-sealed pyramids. The chia seed will help turn the juices the peaches release into a more jam-like consistency.
2. Turn on your grill to medium heat. Place the marinading peaches on the grill, away from direct flame, while it heats.
3. Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and salt + pepper in a small bowl. Coat sparingly the areas of the grill you will be using with this mixture. Brush onto both sides of the mushroom.
4. Grill the mushrooms for 4 minutes on each side. Remove both the peaches and the mushrooms.

Assemble each burger: On a rye bun, spread some goat cheese and add a sprig of thyme. On this, place the mushroom, cap-down, and fill with 4 cherry tomato halves, and a generous spoonful of marinaded peaches. Top with the second rye bun and serve with a helping of baked sweet potato wedges and miso mayo (recipes below).

baked sweet potato wedges
5 sweet potatoes, peel left on, halved by width + then cut into 1 inch wedges
light olive oil
coarse sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread evenly across a baking sheet the sweet potato wedges, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
2. Bake for 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and a golden brown. Serve warm.

vegan miso mayo dip
6 oz firm silken tofu*
1 clove garlic, inner germ removed
2 tsp white miso paste*
a bit of yellow onion
1/2 tsp nutmeg
black pepper

1. Throw all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and process on high speed until smooth and combined. Serve dolloped onto the side of the plate or in tiny jars.
*Look for non-GM (genetically-modified) soybeans as an ingredient!

source: Huffington Post; Halving Global Poverty, London School of Economics; ISBN-13 9781556434716, 9780895295583; 78th Annual Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs Conference: The Global Politics of Food.

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