Good things happen when fruit meets fire

  • By Ellie Krieger Special to The Washington Post
  • Thursday, July 16, 2015 11:58am
  • Life

If you haven’t yet experienced the joys of grilled fruit, consider this stunning sundae to be a deliciously sweet invitation. Grilling transforms the fruit almost magically. And although you can do it any time of year using a grill pan and tropical fruit, such as pineapple or mango, summer is prime time for the technique, when the outdoor grill is ready and the season’s stone fruit — peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries — as well as strawberries and grapes, grill especially well.

All you do is remove any pits; slice or halve larger fruit, or skewer smaller fruit; brush the cut sides with oil, and pop it on the grill for a few minutes per side, until the fruit is softened yet retains its shape, and grill marks have formed. That kiss of fire makes the fruit more voluptuously juicy as the water in it warms, and more deeply flavored as the fruit’s natural sugars caramelize. It is an incredibly versatile, colorful and healthful addition to savory and sweet dishes.

On the savory side, I like to chop grilled fruit and toss it with lime juice, chili, cilantro and onions for a salsa to serve with grilled pork or chicken.

For dessert, it is heavenly simply drizzled with maple syrup or honey and sprinkled with fresh mint. The accompanying recipe goes a step further, turning a colorful mix of grilled peaches, plums and grapes into a sumptuous sundae by topping it with a scoop of frozen yogurt and a bright no-cook strawberry sauce for a dessert that just screams summer.

Grilled fruit sundaes with strawberry sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon boiling water

About 5 large strawberries, hulled and chopped (5 ounces total; defrosted, with juice, if using frozen)

10 seedless green grapes

1 medium peach or nectarine, ripe but firm

1 medium plum, ripe but firm

1 teaspoon canola oil

11/3 cups regular or low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt

Fresh mint, for garnish

Make ahead: You’ll need to soak a bamboo skewer in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling, or use a metal skewer. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Prepare the grill for direct heat or preheat a gas grill to medium (375 to 400 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal; once the coals are ready, distribute them evenly in the cooking area. For a medium fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 6 to 7 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.

Combine the honey and boiling water in a liquid measuring cup, stirring until the honey has dissolved. Pour into a blender, then add the strawberries; puree until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a container, pressing the puree through with a spoon. Discard the solids; cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days).

Spray the grill grate, a vegetable grilling basket or a grill pan with cooking oil spray; if using the basket or pan, place it on the grill.

Thread the grapes onto the skewer. Cut the peach or nectarine and the plum in half, and discard the pits, then cut each half vertically into 2 round slices. Brush the fruit slices with oil on both sides and place them on the grate (or in the basket or pan). Cook uncovered for 2 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for 1 minute on the second side, until the fruit has softened and grill marks have formed. Transfer the fruit to a cutting board, allow to cool slightly, then cut it into 1/2-inch pieces.

Place the skewer on the grill; cook uncovered for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until the grapes are lightly browned. Remove from the skewer and cut each grape in half.

To serve, spoon about 1/2 cup of fruit into each small bowl or parfait glass. Top each portion with a 1/3-cup scoop of the frozen yogurt, then drizzle with the chilled strawberry sauce. Garnish with mint; serve right away.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition 5/8 Per serving (using low-fat frozen yogurt): 160 calories, 2g protein, 32g carbohydrates, 3g fat, 1g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 2g dietary fiber, 26g sugar.

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