A gorgeous night for learning to cook with Chef John Ash at the Dry Creek Peach & Produce Company

One of my favorite events each year is a class and dinner that I do with Dry Creek Peach Company in the middle of their orchard in the beautiful Dry Creek Valley near Healdsburg, California.  I do this in partnership with Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg, a very fun cooking school that offers a wide range of classes throughout the year.

One of the recipes we made at this event: Grilled Coconut Chicken, Peach Chutney and Sesame Spinach

Historically, the Dry Creek Valley was a place in which all manner of fruits and vegetables were grown.  Dry Creek Valley, an official AVA, is now planted almost entirely with wine grapes and Dry Creek Peach is the last outpost for some of the most delicious peaches, nectarines and plums that I’ve ever had in my life.

Photo courtesy Donna Del Rey, Relish Culinary Adventures

I try to work peaches into every course and it’s always fun to see what the favorites are.  This year the “winner” was a very simple salad course, the recipe for which I’ve included below.  If you make it, let me know what you think of it!

Serves 6

Robiola is considered by many to be Italy’s best cheese.  It comes from the Piedmont in the north and is a blend of cow, goat and sheep’s milk.  True Mortadella is sublime.  It hails from Bologna.  Seek out the real versions of both the meat and the cheese for this recipe.  It will make all the difference in the world!

12 thin slices of mortadella
12 ounces fresh robiola
12 basil leaves
3 ripe peaches; halved, peeled and pitted
2 tablespoons or so fruity extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups packed baby arugula leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

On a work surface, lay out the slices of the mortadella. Divide the robiola in the center of each one and top it with a basil leaf. Fold the mortadella over the cheese and then fold in the sides to form a neat packet.  Secure with toothpicks.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Lightly coat the peaches with olive oil and grill until nicely marked.  Slice each half attractively and set aside.

Grill the packets over high heat for about 1 minute per side, until they are lightly marked and the cheese has softened. Discard the toothpicks.

In a bowl, toss the arugula with olive oil and vinegar and season to your taste with salt and pepper. Arrange peaches and dressed arugula attractively on 6 plates.  Top with warm packets and serve right away.