Never say never. I thought I wouldn’t like grilled fruit, but warm caramel-glazed peaches over vanilla bean ice cream changed my mind.
This was only the beginning of my transformation from grilled fruit skeptic to hot fruit fanatic. What clinched it was a salad topped with grilled pineapple and toasted coconut and macadamias. And the topper was a crisp green salad with warm, smoky grilled pineapple and the crunch of fragrant toasted macadamia. “This,” I thought, “this is fabulous.”
I started playing with some marinades and glazes, realizing that grilled fruit can be served as appetizers, salads, desserts and entrees. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when grilling fruit:
Select fruit that is not over-ripe. Better to hand-pick fruits that are a little under-ripe as they hold up better when heated.
Most fruits will work well and almost any firm fruit can be grilled. The best fruits are pineapple, peaches, nectarines, bananas, papayas, mangoes and avocados.
Fruit can be grilled “as is” or au natural, but add a marinade or spice mixture and you give the fruit a unique character. Grilled fruits can add distinction to fresh green salads of any kind. Warm fruit over cool greens is sensational. Grilled fruit also can be served as a garnish on any entree or turned into a simple salsa.
A memorable dessert is the last taste you want to leave guests with before they leave your house. Imagine warm maple grilled bananas and toasted pistachios served over chocolate ice cream.
Remember to watch your grilled fruits carefully; they don’t take long to cook.
–By Chef Steve Petusevsky