It’s only July. But if you’re a grilling enthusiast with a big, silver triple burner out back, you’ve likely already put the char to every kind of animal protein you can find.
So, what’s left to grill? Here’s a novel thought: head for the nearest produce stand and pick out some nice, ripe fruit.
Just doesn’t sound right, does it? Why would you take a cool, delicious peach and cover it with grill marks? Can barbecued fruit really taste good?
Oh, yes indeed it can.
Fruit — of just about any variety — is perfect for summer grilling because it’s so darn easy to prepare. At its most basic, any fruit is just a combination of water and sugar. By slapping the fruit on a nice, hot grill, you reduce the water content and caramelize the natural sugars.
All you need are sliced fruit, water and a little oil. We’d suggest you start with the firmer fruits like pineapples, pears and apples because they will hold their shape better as you learn the process. Then, once you’ve got it down, graduate to softer fruits like peaches, apricots, plums and mangoes. Don’t overcook the soft ones, as they will tend to turn mushy. If you try bananas, just peel them and slice them lengthwise. All other fruits, just slice down the middle and remove the seeds or pits and leave the skins on.
You haven’t lived until you’ve tried watermelon on the grill. You’ve never had it so sweet.
Easy as 1,2, 3… and 4
1. Soak it: Once you’ve sliced the fruit, soak it in cold water for a half hour to maximize the water content and ensure the fruit stays juicy. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to preserve color.
2. Keep it clean: It’s best to start with a clean grill.
3. Oil up: Lightly spray the fruit with vegetable oil. Stay away from flavored oils and olive oil sprays. If you want even more flavor, try adding spices (cinnamon, ginger or even your favorite rum) to the soaking water.
4. Cook the fruit over medium heat.
The end product will be grilled fruit that will add explosions of flavor to any dish. Here’s just a few uses:
- Add grilled pineapple slices to grilled pork chops.
- Add grilled apples to a slice of apple pie.
- Grill bananas, brush with brown sugar and place over ice cream.
- Make a “fruit kabob” with chunks of pineapple, apples and melons.
- Add grilled pineapple to a little flaked coconut and add to rice.
- Grill peach halves, add a light, reduced red wine sauce and serve with a slightly grilled slice of store-bought angel food cake.
- Take a few grilled apple slices, add some shavings of flavorful hard cheese and some toasted pecans, and drizzle it all with a little honey.
- Add some grilled sliced plums to grilled shrimp.
- If you have a grilling pan, add some nectarines and fresh blackberries. You’ll end up with a fresh summer salsa that’s great with chicken breasts.
Finally, if you find that you’ve purchased a fruit, such as mango, that isn’t quite ripe — don’t wait. Just put it on the grill to bring out those sugars!