A few months ago, I read a cookbook called ‘wichCraft, by Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortuzar. It’s based on the menu of the restaurant of the same name. The book’s pretty cool — the pictures are gorgeous, and what recipes I’ve tried out of it have been tasty. The emphasis, obviously, is on sandwiches and all the nifty things you can put between two slices of bread. Check it out. You may like it.

This particular recipe is adapted from ‘wichCraft. I don’t typically keep star anise in the house, as I don’t have a use for it frequently enough to keep the leftover stars from going stale. So I substituted five-spice powder for both the star anise and the stick cinnamon. It colors the fennel and fruit some, but that’s OK as far as I’m concerned, and it’s darn tasty. I lessened the amount of sugar, since Uncle Pasto is a diabetic, and the recipe really doesn’t need as much sugar as called for. I’ve made the recipe both with white peaches and regular peaches, instead of the original apricots. I can tell you without hesitation that I’m certain it would work beautifully with any stone fruit, including plums and possibly even cherries, if you wanted to take the time to pit that many.

Peach-Ricotta Open-Faced Sandwiches

Adapted from ‘wichCraft. Makes four open-faced sandwiches, to serve two.

  • 4 slices whole-grain bread
  • 2 large regular or white peaches, pitted and cut into eighths (alternatively, 3-4 small to medium peaches, 4-6 apricots, 4-6 plums, or quite a lot of cherries, pitted and halved)
  • 1/2 of a medium bulb of fennel, fronds removed, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. sugar (you can increase or decrease this depending on how sweet your fruit is)
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/3-1/2 lb. ricotta cheese (about a third of a small container)
  • 1/2 tsp. five-spice powder
  • roasted pistachios
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the sugar, water, and five-spice powder in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and add the peaches and fennel. Simmer for eight to ten minutes, until the peaches are quite soft and the fennel is just barely still crunchy. Strain away the juice. (You can save the juice for later, and serve it over ice cream. MMM.)

Cooking peaches and fennel

This is about what it should look like when it's ready. White peaches shown here.

While the peaches and fennel are cooking, grill or toast the bread, and prepare the pistachios. If you’re grilling the bread, you may want to spread it lightly with a little olive oil before grilling, as seen here.

Grilling bread

I love my grill pan. Totally recommended if you have a gas stove. It's a griddle on the flip side.

To prep the pistachios: Get about 1/4 c. unshelled pistachios. Shell them, and lay them in a single layer on one half of a clean towel. Fold the rest of the towel over the pistachios, grab a meat mallet or a small heavy skillet, and smack the pistachios into bits. Shake the pistachios out of the towel into a bowl.

Spread each piece of grilled bread with a generously thick layer of ricotta. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Top each piece with the drained peach-fennel mixture and the crushed pistachios, then sprinkle on a little more salt and pepper. Eat immediately. You will probably want a knife and fork, unless you don’t mind getting messy.

This stuff is FABULOUS. YUM.

Peach Ricotta Sandwiches

They were so good, we didn't even think to take pictures until after we were halfway through eating them.