Did you "get your grill on" as part of your July 4th celebrations?
Hopefully, you were able to enjoy not just grilled meats, but also take advantage of all the in-season produce...maybe even gaining inspiration from our recent grilling coaching tips on:
This time, we want to motivate and inspire you to grill fruits and desserts! If you have grilled fruits before, you know how the juices and flavors seem to get more intense and the sugars caramelize. Plus, the grill marks can add a great visual appeal. (Let's be honest, they look super cool!)
We still have vivid memories of a vacation a few years ago in Savannah, GA. We had just finished lunch, enjoying some fresh trout we had literally just caught hours before and we were contemplating dessert. Some just-picked juicy peaches were just sitting there staring at us. So we cut them in half and they made their way to the grill for a few minutes. We didn't have any ice cream, so we topped them with goat cheese, honey and fresh mint that were left over from dinner the night before. They were absolutely delicious, and such an easy way to satisfy a sweet craving!
So, what fruits can you grill?
Just about all of them! Some of the best options include peaches, nectarines, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, apples, pears, bananas and mango. We should also add avocados and tomatoes to the list since they are fantastic on the grill and are technically fruits. Smaller fruits like berries, grapes and figs are also excellent on the grill, although you may need to cook them on a tray or in a foil packet. Fruits that are ripe, but not overripe, are best for the grill.
How do you cook fruits on the grill?
It is best to keep fruits in large pieces. For example, you can cut pineapple into slices and grill them directly on the grill grates. For peaches and nectarines, cut them in half and place them directly on the grates. If you are grilling bananas, consider leaving the peel on to keep them from falling apart. You can cut them lengthwise and place them cut side down on the grill until they caramelize, and them flip them and cook with the peel on the grates for about 30 seconds.
Oil the grill grates. To prevent them from sticking, you can oil the grates and also brush or spray the fruit with a little oil. Cooking time will vary based on how hot your grill is and how close the grates are to your heat source. A good rule of thumb is to grill them for about 3 minutes, and then flip and grill for 1 to 3 minutes more. Pineapple may take a little longer than more delicate fruits like peaches or nectarines. At the end of the day, use your best judgement and grill the fruits until they reach your desired consistency and appearance.
Then what? What can you do with grilled fruits?
This is where the fun starts! You can keep it sweet, or you can pair your sweet, caramelized fruit with savory ingredients for mind-blowing flavors. Here are just a few ideas:
- Grilled peaches: for a simple dessert, throw some fresh peaches on the grill for a few minutes, and then add your favorite toppings. Even a simple drizzle of balsamic reduction will send the flavor over the top!
- Simple vinaigrette! Cut a lemon, lime or orange in half and grill for a few minutes. Combine the juice with some olive oil and fresh herbs for a zesty and refreshing dressing for your salad or grilled veggies!
- Wrap it up! Take peach or cantaloupe slices and wrap them in a piece of prosciutto. Add a fresh basil leaf, and then grill for about 3 minutes per side. Serving with balsamic reduction will be a sweet, salty, tangy treat for your taste buds!
- Grilled watermelon: toss some slices of watermelon on the grill, and then top with feta cheese and fresh mint (or whatever cheese and fresh herbs you are craving) - easy and delicious!
- Meat pairings: when grilling meat, ask yourself what in-season fruit would go well with the meat. Combining the flavors and textures of fruits and meats can produce some incredible meals! Grill pineapple, along with chicken or steak and a ton of veggies for the Hawaiian Fajitas. Or, grill pineapple slices and avocado alongside salmon for the flavor-loaded Tropical Salmon Sandwich. Some other great options include the Grilled Peach Burgers, Chicken Teriyaki Burgers, Pineapple Mojito Chicken Bowl, Summer Basil & Peach Grilled Chicken, and the Cajun Chicken Salad with Grilled Peaches.
- Combine fruits & veggies! We sometimes hear people say they don't like to mix fruits with vegetables. Our response? "You gotta give this a try -- you don't know what you are missing!" A perfect example is the Grilled Summer Squash & Nectarines...the combination of nectarines, squash, blue cheese and balsamic is one amazing flavor combination! The Mexican Pineapple Salad is another great example that is a perfect accompaniment to your tacos or other Mexican-inspired meals!
- Desserts on the grill! Move over s'mores...try a Grilled Banana Split! With dark chocolate chips wedged into the banana, tender and juicy strawberry slices, a scoop of ice cream and toasted nuts, you will be craving this spectacular dessert over and over! Plus, you can avoid the oven heating up your house and you can even cook your fruit crisp on the grill. Whether it is the Blackberry Peach Crisp (which is perfect this time of year) or the Everyday Fruit Crisp (watch this video to see how easy it is), you can prepare the ingredients in a cast iron skillet and cook it on the grill. Top with vanilla ice cream or yogurt and let's just say...ideal summer dessert!
We hope this provides some inspiration and motivation to take your grilling to the next level!
Toss some fruits on your grill this summer and let us know what masterpieces you come up with!
What are your favorite ways to enjoy fruits from the grill?