Grilling with fresh fruits and vegetables

June 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Nothing says summertime like grilling! Chef and co-owner of Acquerello, Suzette Gresham, explains why you need to add fruits and vegetables to your grilling menu.

Tips for grilling fruit

1. Turn up the Heat. A good rule of thumb: start with a hot grill and then lower the heat only if necessary. This makes for great grill marks and reduces sticking!

2. Watch the Timer. Fruits generally take about a total of 3-5 minutes to cook for an average half inch slice. Keep in mind that the goal in grilling fruit is to heat the fruit only well enough to soften the texture and bring out the irresistible flavor.

3. Just a Spoonful of Sugar. Add a drizzle or sprinkle of your favorite sweeter such as honey, maple syrup or a bit of brown sugar on fruit while grilling to bring out the natural sweetness.

4. Prep your Grate. Make sure that the grill is brushed and wiped clean, then liberally apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to your grill grate before grilling. This will keep fruits from sticking to the grill.

5. Slice and Dice. Tree fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches and plums can be cut in half and grilled after removing the core; bananas can be grilled whole or cut lengthwise.

6. Right Side Up. To reduce sticking, grill fruit pulp-side down first on a hot grill, then turn.

Grilled Fruit Fiesta Salsa
Yields: 6 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 each Pineapple, Del Monte*Gold Extra Sweet, peeled
  • 1 Each Mango, Del Monte, peeled and sliced 3/8" thick
  • 1 Each Papaya, Del Monte, peeled, seeds removed, sliced 3/8" thick
  • 2 Each Avocado, Del Monte, firm, large
  • 1 each Red onion, small,
  • 3 Each Tomato, blanched & peeled, diced small & drained
  • 1 Each Jalapeno pepper, tiny dice
  • 1-2 Each Lime
  • 1 bunch Cilantro, leaves, chopped coarsely
  • To taste kosher salt
  • To taste Black pepper
  • To taste Sugar, granulated, as needed

Assembly:

Prepare your grilling surface. Clean. Pre heat. Slice the pineapple in 3/8" half moons. Lay on a platter or half sheet pan. Spray with oil. Season. Wipe the grill with an oil-moistened rag. When the grill is hot, lay the pineapple slices on the grill at a diagonal angle. Watch for grill marks. Turn the slices a 1/4 turn, still on the same side, making an "x" on the surface. Now flip to the other side and repeat. Once marks have been achieved, remove to sheet pan. Cool.

Repeat the same procedure with the mango and papaya. Once cooled, all The grilled fruits will be cut into a small dice. The red onions can be added raw, as a small dice or, you can cut the onion in 3/8" rings and grill them also.

Place all the diced, grilled fruit into a stainless steel bowl. Add the blanched, peeled and diced tomatoes. Add the finely diced jalapenos. Zest the skin of the lime first and add it, followed by the strained juice of one lime. Lightly salt now, so some of the juices can drop. Determine by flavor and liquidity if you need more limejuice. Salsa should not be soupy. Add chopped cilantro, black pepper, additional salt and sugar, if needed. Chill the salsa for several hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Serve with traditional tortilla chips or vegetable dippers, such as carrot, celery, jicama, and romaine lettuce spears,

Trio of Grilled Fruits with Marinated Chicken in Honey Lime dressing
Yields: 6 - 8 portions

Marinade ingredients:

  • 1 each Pineapple, Del Monte Gold, Extra Sweet, peeled
  • 1 can Pineapple juice, 6 ozs.
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil, pure
  • 12 each Dry red chilies, whole
  • 8 cloves Garlic, peeled and split in half
  • 1 each Red onion, peeled and sliced
  • 6 each Basil, stems with leaves attached
  • 1 - 2 Each Chicken, fryer, cut-up or 6 to 8 boneless chicken breasts

Remove the top and bottom of the pineapple. Peel. Slice across, starting from the top, into (3) 1" thick slices. Chop these first 3 slices into a medium dice, for the marinade. Next, slice off 6 more pineapple "disks" at a thinner, 1/2 inch each. Reserve slices for grilling. Set aside.

In a stainless steel bowl, mix the chopped pineapple, juice, brown sugar,olive oil, dry chilies, garlic, red onion, and basil leaves. Pour over the chicken. Cover. Marinate minimum 2 hours, but not more then 8 hrs. or overnight. Drain. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Set grill marks. Set aside on trays to be finished later in the oven, if desired.

Make the vinaigrette dressing:

Reinforce the same flavors of the marinate through the dressing. If time is an issue, skip this step and substitute a purchased honey-dijion style dressing.

First, remove the lime zest with a micro plane into a separate bowl. In a small pot, heat the pineapple trim, lime juice and sugar just until boiling. Turn off. Add to the Lime zest. Follow with shallots, vinegar, olive oil, chili sauce, garlic, honey, and chopped basil. Add black pepper and salt, to taste. Set aside.

  • 1 Tablspn. Pineapple trim, minced
  • 3 Tablspn. Lime juice, strained *(Zest removed first)
  • 1 Tablspn. Sugar, granulated
  • 1 each Shallot, small, minced
  • 2 Tablspn. Cane Vinegar, "Datu Puti or distilled vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 Tablspn. Mae Ploy, Thai chili sauce
  • 1 Tablspn. Honey
  • 1 each Garlic, peeled & minced fine
  • 2 Tablspn. Basil, fresh, chiffonade
  • to taste Kosher salt
  • to taste Black pepper

Prep fruit for grilling:

  • 3 each Bananas, whole, skin of, split lengthwise
  • 6 each Mango spears, skin off
  • 2 each Avocadoes, split in half & peeled
  • 6 each Pineapple "disks", reserved from above
  • 1 each Red onion, peeled & sliced into rounds 3/8" thick

Grill bananas cut side down, with skins on. Season & grill mango spears. Slice avocado horizontally into 3 slices, aprox. 3/8" thick. Grill. Keep all items flat. Do not stack. Grill onion rings also. Cook until tender.

Remaining ingredients & assembly:

  • 1/2 each Red onion, peeled & sliced julienned
  • 1/2 cup Pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 head Red leaf lettuce
  • 1/4 head Romaine
  • 1/4 lb. Spring mix w/ frisee
  • 3 stems Basil with leaves attached

Select large plates. Have your lettuce torn or chopped, washed and spun dry. Chill. Arrange grilled fruits in order from banana, pineapple, mango spear, avocado slice and red onion rings on the left side of the plate, starting at the position of 10 o'clock and moving counter clockwise, pivoting your fruit to 7 o'clock. Next, slice and pivot grilled chicken meat.

Prime your salad bowl, reserving enough dressing to drizzle as garnish. Add solids first: red onion julienne and pine nuts. Add basil leaves and lettuce. Add more dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Toss. Place toward center of plate, leaving a clear Margin. Sprinkle pine nuts. Stir vinaigrette well. Drizzle first, over fruit & chicken, as you quickly drizzle around the edge of the plate.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Grilled Fresh Fruit Sampler with Coconut Cream and Mint Syrup
Yields: 4 - 6 servings

Making the coconut cream:

  • 1 cup Heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup Coconut cream, shaken well
  • 2 Tablspn. Sugar, granulated
  • 1 teaspn. Vanilla extract
  • pinch Salt, kosher

In chilled bowl or with vertical mixer, whip on slow to medium speed until thickened. Remove and chill, covered.

Preping the mint syrup & coconut garnish:

  • 12 each Fresh mint leaves, large
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1 cup Sugar, granulated
  • 1/2 cup Shredded coconut

Heat 1/2 cup water, add 1-cup sugar and stir until mixed well. Bring up to a boil. Turn off. This is simple syrup. It should still be clear. Put the mint leaves in blender. Add about half the simple syrup while it is hot and run until mint leaves are whirling smoothly. About 2-3 minutes. Take out and chill immediately. Can be put into a squirt bottle or drizzled with a spoon.

Put shredded coconut on a tray and toast in the oven. Watch closely. Cool.

Preparing the fruit:

  • 1/2 each Pineapple, peeled and cut in half, lengthwise
  • 2 - 3 each Bananas, skin on, split lengthwise
  • 1 each Papaya, Hawaiian, Del Monte Fresh and / or
  • 1 each Mango, Del Monte Fresh

Use a seasoned cast iron grill pan or outdoor grill. Make sure the grates are clean. Use a wire brush. Pre-heat. Burn off old stuff. Wipe with oiled rag. Grill the fruit attractively. Cool. Cut Pineapple slices in half, making wedges. Remove the center core. Remove the skins from the bananas. Cut diagonally. Each banana gives 2 portions. Reserve the grilled papaya and mango.

Assembly:

On a plate, spread the coconut cream in the shape of a triangle or whatever fits your plate. *(If you're feeling professional, you can make a template out of a plastic lid or cardboard. This allows you to have a consistent shape for every plate that you make.) Drizzle the mint syrup quickly in a broken circle just around the coconut cream. Sprinkle a little toasted coconut around.

Set 2 pieces of pineapple just on the edge of the cream. Strategically position 2 pieces of banana a third of the distance away. Be an artist and set the remainder of your fruit so that it looks artfully placed. Garnish with lime zest on top of the fruits.

If this seems too laborious. Just cut up your grilled fruits and put them into a tall-stemmed glass, such as a martini glass and spoon the coconut cream on top. Sprinkle the toasted, shredded coconut and you are done.

You can find more recipes for grilling fruit and vegetables at www.fruit.com -- where you can also register to enter "The Fresh Grill Thrill Sweepstakes" for a chance to win a new Char-Broil RED infrared grill!


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