Nectarines of the gods

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Nectarines are in the peach family and are easily recognized by their smooth skins and firm sweet flesh. Back in the early 17th century, the term nectarine was used to describe anything of or like nectar, that sugary substance gathered by bees to make honey. In Greek and Roman mythology, nectar is an other-worldly drink consumed by the gods.

All this sounds like a lot of pressure riding on a piece of fruit. But John Tenerelli is up to the task. He’s been farming for 35 years and grows over 15 kinds of yellow and white nectarines at his orchard in Littlerock, California. The farm is situated 2,900 feet above sea level. Cooler temperatures allow the nectarines to stay on trees longer when compared to orchards in warmer climes. Tenerelli says this allows his stone fruit to develop more intense flavors. The Diamond Brights balance sweetness with a touch of acidity. Find them for two weeks at the farmers’ market before they disappear until next year.

Before writing up the menu for Heirloom LA, Sara Delevan and Chef Mathew Poley discuss what’s fresh and in season. If you find ripe nectarines in your neck of the woods, Delevan suggests roasting them with baby carrots. Toss the nectarines and carrots with arugula and dress them with lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Now that’s what we call a sweet, savory seasonal salad.

Roasted nectarines and baby carrots. (Photo courtesy of Heirloom LA)
Roasted Nectarines and Baby Carrots (Photo courtesy of Heirloom LA) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)