After spending time in the garden, I like to take a step back to my culinary roots and think about interesting ways to use the amazing variety of fruit available at this time of year. Pies, tarts, and jams are classic uses for our local bounty; if you are unfamiliar with savory (non-dessert) uses for fruits, now is a good time to start expanding your repertoire!
Fresh fruit: Fruit can be frozen on trays and stored in freezer bags for myriad uses later on. I also like to puree them, strain out the skins and seeds, and freeze in ice cube trays. This takes more effort up front, but it’s easy to defrost a few fruit cubes and stir into my homemade nut milk for a tasty strawberry-walnut or raspberry-hazelnut beverage!
Dried fruit: After making nut milk I like to “puree” the leftover nut meal (after dehydrating in an oven) with dried fruits, which I roll up, chill, and slice into bite-sized snacks (obviously you can use fresh nuts, too).
Fresh fruit: light fruits such as apples and pears are commonly found as salad garnishes where leaf lettuce is the primary ingredient. Grapegruit or orange slices are also good as a primary ingredient in salads without lettuce. Crunchier fruits such as apples and bosc pears are good in slaws because their crisp texture holds up well to being shredded.
Pureed fruits such as raspberry or pear can serve as a base for salad dressings. Just add olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and anything else you like.
Dried fruit: The sweet-tart flavor and chewy texture of dried fruits offer a nice contrast to the crispy texture of salad greens or rich, full-bodied cheese plates. The intense colors of dried fruits also add aesthetic appeal.
Fruit for lunch and dinner
Fresh fruit: A friend of mine taught me about apples on peanut butter sandwiches, and I have seen many a recipe for pear-gorgonzola sandwiches. We put tomatoes between slices of bread, so why not other fruits?
Dried fruit: Cooked dishes often call for dried fruit, whose concentrated flavors are more complimentary. A classic example is Moroccan tagines where dried apricots or figs are stewed with chicken or lamb. A classic Spanish dish calls for sauteed spinach, plumped raisins, and pine nuts. Pilaf, with it’s deep, nutty flavor, loves dried fruits, especially cherries and raisins.
Fresh fruit: You can make salsa out of any fresh fruit; peach salsa is one of the most delicious and versatile. I use mine for dipping chips or quesadillas, as a salad dressing, a topping for fish tacos, or served on crostini with cold-smoked salmon and avocado. Yum!
Pureed blackberries mixed with softened butter make a delicious addition to anything from grilled salmon to morning toast.
Dried fruit: To make dips or sauces from dried fruits, reconstitute them in hot water (or cook in a flavorful liquid) and puree. Plum sauce for spring rolls, for example, calls for prunes soaked in hot water, strained, and pureed with chili sauce, rice vinegar, and fish sauce.
Here is a simple recipe for salsa via Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food:
Yields 1.5 cups
2 ripe peaches
½ small onion, diced fine
1 serrano or jalapeno chili, seeds and veins removed, diced fine
juice of one lime
1-2 Tbl minced cilantro
1 small avocado, cut into medium dice (optional)
1. Dip the peaches in boiling water for 10-15 seconds. Slip off the skins, cut the flesh away from the pits, and cut into medium dice.
2. Combine all ingredients, stir to combine. Adjust seasoning, adding lime juice and salt as desired.