What We’re Cooking This Week: Spaghetti With Peach Sauce No. 3

Tomato season may be just getting started, but ripe peaches also work in many recipes that call for the red fruit.

Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.

While they’re not exactly interchangeable, peaches and tomatoes are both sweet, juicy and acidic; similar enough that some things we make with tomatoes are very tasty made with peaches. The Italian bread salad called panzanella and blended gazpacho provide delicious proof. And while I’m not the first person to think about peaches and pasta, most recipes call for slices or chunks of grilled or raw fruit. But I wanted the simplicity of spaghetti pomodoro, and that made me think about late Italian cooking writer Marcella Hazan’s famous tomato sauce.

Hazan’s Tomato Sauce No. 3 (she uses Roman numerals, natch, in her seminal work, 1973′s The Classic Italian Cookbook) calls for crushed tomatoes, halved onions (which are removed after cooking), butter and salt. Using that as a model and the gazpacho technique of emulsifying olive oil with the vegetables, I threw peaches and onion in the blender, added olive oil, and called it sauce.

A bit of red chile—and that could be cayenne pepper, chile flakes, or your favorite chile-centric spice blend like Sebastiano’s Calabrian Chili Garlic Salt—offsets the sweet fruit with a little heat. The mint and basil provide a fresh, herbaceous note, and add Parmigiano, because it’s spaghetti.

Spaghetti With Peach Sauce No. 3

1 pound spaghetti

3 ripe peaches

1 small sweet onion

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher-style sea salt, plus more for the pasta water

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

Fresh mint, basil, or both, chopped

Red chile flakes or powder

Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta.

Cut the peaches in half, remove the pit, and cut each half into 3 or 4 pieces (you can leave the peel on). Do the same to the onion; no pit, obviously, but do peel it. Put both in the blender with the salt and blitz until completely smooth. With the motor running, add the oil, then turn it off and pour the blend into a saucepan. Heat gently until it begins to bubble.

When the water boils, add salt (I never measure pasta salt, but the 2 to 3 big pinches I throw in equals about 3 tablespoons), and add the pasta. Cook according to the time on the package (usually 10 minutes for good durum spaghetti), but taste it as you get close to the end time. When it’s ready, drain, return to the pot, and add the sauce. Mix well (you could add the red chile now, but I prefer to let each diner add their own).

Put a serving of the pasta on a plate or wide, shallow bowl, top with some grated cheese and sprinkle with herbs and red pepper to taste.

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