Serves 6; Recipe by Courtney McDonald

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 firm-ripe freestone peaches, pitted and cut into quarters
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp. olive oil
6 slices bacon, cut into 1” strips
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried (optional)
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the peach quarters in a glass baking dish. Place ½ sprig of thyme onto each peach quarter and set aside.

In a small skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil with the bacon strips. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is cooked to your liking. Drain the fat from the bacon and set bacon pieces aside – keep the bacon fat!

Pour bacon fat over the peaches in the baking dish. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. of the brown sugar over the peaches, season to taste with salt and pepper and roast in the oven until peaches are just softened – about 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

While peaches are cooling: reduce the remaining 1 Tbsp. brown sugar with the balsamic vinegar over medium heat in a small pot until the vinegar is syrupy. Be careful not to over reduce or the vinegar will taste burnt. Set aside.

If using the baby spinach, arrange it on a medium sized platter. Place the warm peaches on top of the spinach topped with the bacon pieces. Crumble the blue cheese over the top and drizzle with the reduced balsamic vinegar.

Serve as a side dish for grilled pork or chicken. Enjoy!