Grilled fruit is a highly nutritious and flavourful addition to any summer meal, the high heat caramelizes the fruit’s natural sugars and imparts subtle smoky notes that complement both sweet and savoury recipes. Almost any fruit is a good candidate for the grill when keeping in mind the following tips that will ensure easy grilling all summer long.
Choosing and prepping the right skewer for the job
Fruit that is naturally small in size or that has been cut into smaller pieces is easier to grill if it has been skewered before being placed on the grill. Metal skewers have the benefit of being ready to use immediately and work well for smaller quantities of fruit. Bamboo skewers need to be soaked in water for 24-hours before being used but work well for a crowd and for easy cleanup. Any fruit with a delicate texture can be threaded with two skewers placed side-by-side to prevent accidental breakage on the grill.
The right prep makes grilling a snap
Fruit that is slightly under ripe works best for grilling. Its firmer texture will keep the fruit’s shape intact and the heat of the grill will soften the fruit as it cooks and bring out its natural juices. Stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines and apricots benefit from their skins being removed before grilling. To do so; bring a large pot of water to boil and make a small “x” incision on the bottom of each fruit before adding to the boiling water for 60 seconds, plunge the fruit into an ice bath and allow to cool for a few minutes before easily slipping the skins off.
The hotter the better
Make sure that the grill is very hot before adding the fruit; the higher the temperature the more non-stick the surface becomes without the addition of oil or butter. If brushing on any fat use mild-flavoured fats with high smoke points such as grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, or clarified butter. It’s important to move the fruit as little as possible while it’s cooking. Not only will this prevent the fruit from slipping through the grate accidentally, it will also ensure even cooking and perfectly placed grill marks for presentation’s sake.
1. Grilled peaches and nectarines
Peaches and nectarines are naturally sweet on their own so consider pairing them with a saltier companion. Salty grilled halloumi cheese can be threaded onto skewers with any stone fruit and then finished with a generous amount of finely chopped mint and parsley. For an elegant appetizer serve a thinly sliced baguette with burrata cheese alongside grilled stone fruit, a fruity olive oil, fresh basil and a balsamic vinegar reduction.
2. Grilled pineapple
Combine finely diced grilled pineapple with a seeded jalapeno or serrano pepper, red onion, tomatoes and cilantro for a tasty salsa that takes with chicken, fish, or pork to the next level. For a decadent tropical-inspired cocktail try making a grilled pineapple Moscow Mule; muddle grilled pineapple with lime juice, and vodka, and combine in a shaker over ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass containing ice, topping with good-quality ginger beer and a spear or wedge of grilled pineapple for a garnish.
3. Grilled watermelon
Jazz up a watermelon and feta salad by grilling the watermelon before cutting into a medium dice. Add crumbled or diced feta cheese, black olives, pickled (or grilled!) red onions, plenty of fresh mint and basil, and a couple of very thinly sliced Thai bird’s eye chilies. Alternately, make a grilled watermelon-based summery gazpacho, subbing in half of the chopped tomatoes with diced grilled watermelon.
4. Grilled plums
Put together a quick summery dessert by grilling halved plums that have been brushed with clarified butter and lightly sprinkled with brown sugar. Remove the plums from the grill and transfer to a large bowl, and allow to sit at room temperature for at least one hour. Serve the grilled plums with their juices topped with vanilla frozen or Greek yogurt and finely chopped candied ginger.