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Serve the Season’s Fresh Fruit: 10 Way-Out Ways

Fruit with Swedish Pancake
(CC) Courtesy of norwichnuts 

The fruit race is on! Fresh fruit is showing its color everywhere now that summer is at its apex.  It makes a health-conscious eater wonder: How much fresh fruit can we actually eat?

We know frozen fruits and vegetables offer the same taste and nutrition all year round. But eating fresh when it’s available has its benefits, too. It can mean helping out local farmers and even sampling something new. It can also provide some nostalgia by reminding us of childhood fruit picking trips. Eating the fruits of the season, whether harvested locally or from away, whether purchased directly from the farmer or through a middle-man, is just part of getting the most out of healthy and delicious summer eating.

The colors range from blue to yellow, the tastes stretch from tangy to mellow: cherries with pineapple, watermelon with peaches, strawberries and rhubarb, blueberries with raspberries…what to do with it all?

Well, we love shortcake as much anyone. But these 10 unique ways to get fruit into your life promise some under-the-radar ideas that are simply way out of this world. They’ll kick start your “servings quotient” and ensure that you’re hitting the pavement as part of the fresh fruit race.

10 Way-Out Ways to Serve the Season’s Fresh Fruit

1. Granita

If you have a hard time transitioning from regular life into full-on summer, granita is your remedy. This more worldly sorbet has summer written all over it. As a recipe run-down from the Chicago Tribune said last week, it’s the grown-up equivalent of the snow cone. To make this Spanish treat, an ice-cream maker or food processor comes in handy. The result is not just delicious – it provides the perfect cool-down for when the sun is high.

Martha Stewart offers up a melon sparkler that hits the spot. But granitas don’t require the cocktail twist. This winning strawberry granita recipe from Epicurious is easy and lo-test, in the most delectable sense.

2. Fruit Pizza

Everyone loves it. And the crust that makes traditional pizza great sets the stage for this dessert pizza twist. Fruit pizzas are perfect when you are surrounded by a fruit extravaganza, since they can be highly personalized for taste and color. Usually cream combined with the fruits of your choice (go for kiwis for a splash of green, blueberries for a zing of blue) and a little creativity is all you need. Serve it on a cake stand and you’ll add a little ahem to your table.

This Grape and Pine Nut Dessert Focaccia requires regular pizza dough (they call for frozen), while some, like this Fruit Pizza recipe from Paula Deen uses cookie dough as its foundation.

3. Dessert Nachos

It may just be an excuse to pour chocolate on tortilla chips, but it’s still a killer snack idea. Food52.com uses blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and peaches to achieve fruit nirvana posing as bar food.

You can also take a lesson from the dessert nacho idea by simply “going naked”. Combine the fruit of you choice, top with a drizzle of honey and cream and a sprinkle of almonds, and let nature do the work of delighting your palate. Use a warm blueberry sauce to sprinkle over ice cream, for instance, or simply top fresh strawberries with Grand Marnier and you’ve achieved delish. Thanks to Real Simple for these effortless ideas that are so good.

4. Cubes, Cups & Cutouts

We admit it: making shapes out of fruit is irresistible for adults and kids both. Watermelon makes a likely suspect: use cookie cutters to serve watermelon shapes as side dishes or garnishes, suggests Watermelon.org, or freeze watermelon puree as cubes for a little flavor to a cocktail, kid beverage or a lemonade.

Making cubes and pops out of fresh fruit is a clear crowd-pleaser, and the traditional pop (think wooden sticks and Dixie cups) is a ubiquitous summer treat. So much so that New York Times’ Mark Bittman breaks down some intensely cool pop flavors this week (and just in time), including Strawberry Basil, Avocado Cilantro, Tomato Cucumber and Mojito.

Sour cherry soup at Pajta Galeria in Sal by heatheronhertravels, on Flickr
(CC)  by  heatheronhertravels 

Try a creamy version of a pop with Wild Blueberry Ice Cream Pops, or use fresh raspberries to make a Raspberry Popsicle as your summer cooler. So simple!

5. Cold Soups

Chilled fruit soup is a natural for days with the mercury soars. This chilly bowl makes tasty use of cantaloupe and peaches, and these ideas from Martha Stewart make delicious use of plums and raspberries and rhubarb, also with raspberries (scoop of vanilla ice cream imperative!).

When the zucchini starts to mount, take advantage by trying Food52.com’s  Creamy Cold Zucchini Basil Soup. Or opt for this Cold Cherry Soup from the New York Times.

7. S’mores

There’s absolutely nothing better than this camp favorite, either assembled in the kitchen with a Bunsen burner or old-school, over your fire ring, chiminea, or, yes, your actual campsite fire. Just ask Tales of Fruit and Cake blogger how much fun they can be.

Really, when a warm, slightly brown marshmallow and a square of chocolate is involved, nothings is off limits, including, apples, cherries, pineapples, pears and all types of berry. This summer, think uber-s’mores: triple layers, fruit combos like strawberries (add sliced strawberries) blueberries (as a drizzle or to pile on) or raspberries (like this fabulous stack of sweet). For extra-special campouts, use high quality chocolate such as Sharffen Berger or Ghirardelli, and make your own homemade graham crackers like these from Girl Who Bakes.

8. Sangria

Sangria could be considered a punch masquerading as wine. It’s a classic Spanish drink that uses brandy, wine or even vodka, as this Watermelon Sangria Cocktail does. Sangria is a veritable reservoir of fruit opportunities and a drink that mixologists just love to embellish. (Our favorite embellishment: a hint of cognac.) Oranges, apples, peaches, and berries all work equally well.

Start with this classic sangria and go from there, or try Emeril’s experienced take on this ruby red drink, no additions necessary. There’s truly no end to easy ways to please with Sangria – take your pick from these 11 unique sangria recipes that claim to be sinfully easy.

9. Hot & Spicy

Adding the sweet of fruit to the heat of spicy creates an irresistible flavor profile. We see evidence of this most often with salsas and chutney, where mango and melon make a regular appearance.

Other ways to make the fruit-hot connection: melon wrapped in prosciutto and rubbed with chili powder, spicy fruit salsa with serrano or jalapeños from Epicurious, Food52.com’s habenero fruit sauce, or spicy fruit brunoise from the Chubby Vegetarian. Another shoe-in for a spicy-sweet sensation? Fish tacos. Try these Spicy Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa a for cutting the heat.

10. Grilled

A list of way-out fruit ideas is incomplete without reiterating the mouth-melting assets of grilled fruit. You may be an old fruit griller from way back, or you may think the grill should be reserved mostly for things that require buns and relish. (This Grilled Peach Sundaes might change your mind.) No matter your baggage, it’s the season to grill fruit.

But what to grill? The options are endless: tomatoes (that wannabe fruit) is perfect lightly charred and drizzled with olive oil, as is mango (brushed with oil and sprinkled with lime) or pineapple (in hearty rectangular chunks or ka-bobbed). Even Skinny Cook Allison Fishman is a fan of grilled pineapple with ice cream – who wouldn’t be? Here’s a comprehensive list of some other ideas (fruit and non) from last year’s New York Times for what to grill that isn’t burger shaped.

Got a favorite new way to eat the sweet this summer? Let us know at [email protected], or send us a snap, and we’ll join you in celebrating your passion for the serving!

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