These peaches poached with basil may well be the perfect summer dessert. It makes brilliant use of summer’s best produce, it is easy but impressive, you can make it ahead, and it’s beautiful and truly unique. The beautiful pink globes served with a drizzle of syrup and a sprig of basil make a lovely plate, but add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or some sweetened whipped cream if you’d like -- or my favorite, a dollop of mascarpone blended with a little powdered sugar. Under no circumstances should you discard the excess poaching liquid. Keep the pale pink syrup in the fridge in an airtight container. You can drizzle it over plain ice cream or stir it into yogurt, use it to sweeten iced tea, add an outstanding twist to a gin and tonic, or just pour it over ice and top with sparkling water for a real refresher. —TheRunawaySpoon
Test Kitchen Notes
This is a dish that keeps on giving. The peach halves, gently poached in a fragrant syrup of white wine and sugar infused with fresh basil, make a gorgeous, aromatic dessert. As TheRunawaySpoon notes, the leftover syrup, tinted a rosy pink from the peach skins (which conveniently slip right off once the fruit is tender), should be reserved and savored: drizzle it over ice cream, or use it to perk up sparkling water or prosecco. Note: using non-clingstone peaches will make your life easier here! - A&M —The Editors
Place the wine, 1 1/2 cups water and sugar in a wide bottomed saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar slightly. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then reduce the heat, leaving the syrup to simmer gently.
Cut the peaches in half and remove pits gently. Drop half of the basil leaves into the syrup, and then gently place the peach halves cut side down into the syrup. Poach for about 3 minutes and then gently turn over using a slotted spoon. Continue poaching for an additional 3 – 4 minutes, until soft (cooking time will depend on ripeness of peaches). Carefully prick the cut side of the peaches to check for tenderness. The peels should be wrinkling up as well. You may cook the peaches in two batches if all the halves will not fit in the pan at once.
Remove the peaches to a plate with a slotted spoon. When they are cool enough to handle, gently slide the skins off and discard. Add all but about six basil leaves to the syrup and bring to a boil; boil until reduced by about half. Pour any juices that have collected on the plate with the peaches into the syrup. Leave to cool to room temperature.
The peaches can be covered with plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for several hours. When ready to serve, place two peach halves on a plate and drizzle with a little basil syrup. Reserve the remaining syrup for another use. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.