Summer Grilled Recipes Easy
Next time you're grilling, promise you'll throw fruit into the mix. Not only is every bite a delicious, decadent explosion of sweet juiciness, grilled fruit is an easy way to add fresh fruit into your diet. The average American gets fewer than half of the recommended five-to-seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Grilled fruit gives us all of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants of fresh fruit and still packs in the same fiber as fresh fruit. Besides, if the grill - or the griddle, cast-iron skillet or broiler - is already hot, sizzling fresh fruit takes almost zero effort.
Grilling fruit caramelizes natural sugars, enhancing fruit's sweetness and adds a softness to the texture. I love pairing spicy, savory flavors with grilled fruit; fresh grilled peaches dusted with chipotle powder, for example, is one of my go-to favorites.
And grilled fruit isn't just for dessert. It works perfectly as an appetizer, added to a salad, or simply served as a side dish.
I talked with my friend Ben Thibodeaux, executive chef of Cavan, for his tips on grilling fruit, plus his recommendations for fruit-and-flavor pairings and four of his fun recipes that are not only delicious and nutritious, they look really cool, too.
Tips for grilling fruit
Always brush fruits with a bit of oil. Light olive oil or avocado oil work well. Oil enhances caramelization and helps prevent sticking.
Skewer it. When grilling smaller pieces of fruit, like strawberries, grapes or blackberries, thread them on a skewer first so they don't fall through the grill. Don't have skewers handy? A cast iron skillet or grill basket also can do the trick.
Make sure your grill is nice and hot. Thibodeaux recommends medium-high heat, if not high heat, so that fruits get caramelized quickly, without turning to mush.
Leave the skin or rind on. Grill fruits like mango or grapefruit with the skin on, with the fleshy part of the fruit toward the flame.
Keep an eye on it. Most fruits are best when grilled over medium-high or high heat, it only takes 2-3 minutes per side to grill, so stay close.
Flavor pairings for grilled fruit
"Don't be afraid to incorporate spices, herbs, or vinegar, " says Thibodeaux. "It adds a nice balance to the sweetness of fruit."
Here's a rundown of Thibodeaux's recommendations of what flavors pair well with grill-friendly fruits. These are just ideas to help get your creative juices flowing; there's certainly no right or wrong - if you like it, then it's done well and done right.
Apples: Cardamom, cinnamon, toasted walnuts
Bananas: Cocoa powder, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla bean, black pepper
Berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries): Basil, lime, lavender, mint
Grapefruit: Mint, oregano, curry powder
Melon (cantaloupe, honeydew): Cane vinegar reduction, lemongrass, prosciutto
Mango: Chipotle or chili powder
Papaya: Lime, red or black pepper, crushed pistachios
Pears: Ginger, cinnamon
Pineapple: Fresh cilantro, jalapeno, serrano peppers
Strawberries: Fresh basil, brie, aged balsamic vinegar
Stone fruit (peaches, plums, apricots): Chipotle or chili powder, goat cheese, a drizzle of honey
Watermelon: Balsamic reduction (a light drizzle), manchego cheese, fresh mint, pickled or grilled red onion
Smoky, savory, and sweet, these grilled pineapple "lollipops" are equal parts fun and deliciousness.
Makes 8 servings
8 small wooden Popsicle sticks, soaked in water
2 serrano peppers, diced
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
1 tablespoon extra light olive or canola oil
Pinch of salt
10 - 12 mint leaves
Remove top and bottom from pineapple, then quarter lengthwise. Cut each quarter into two-inch wedges. Insert Popsicle stick into rind. Liberally season wedges with serranos, cilantro and paprika. Drizzle with oil and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
Over medium-high heat, grill pineapple wedges for 2 minutes on each side. Remove wedges, season lightly with salt and garnish with fresh mint while still hot. Serve warm.
Per serving: 75 calories, 2 grams fat, 0 saturated fat, 20 mg sodium, 15 grams carbohydrates,