Dean of Deliciousness tells us how to grill fruit

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I spent last Saturday morning at the Overland Park Farmer’s Market (as usual) braving the freak early morning heat to cook in the open air and meet some great market goers who stop by to chat with me.  This week people came in droves.  Why might you ask would they take a break from their sleepy shopping to talk to me? It’s the smell.  This week I grilled peaches and the scent of sweet fruitiness caramelizing on a grill was too much to resist. (OK, in all seriousness I knew it would be, I can’t resist it either!) Lots of people stopped by to check out what was going on, and to ask me “You can grill peaches? Really?” The answer is yes, you really can, and not only that, you should.

I’m glad we’re all kissing goodbye the idea that a grill can only be used for overdone burgers and boring hotdogs (you know how we feel about hotdogs around here… have you read the Main Dish’s last blog?)  Everybody is getting brave grilling their salads, appetizers, veggies and even fruit!  Grilled fruit recipes are popping up everywhere, just this weekend there was a planked cheese and grilled grape recipe in the Kansas City Star and our own Bruce Campbell makes a mean rum soaked grilled pineapple in his classes!

Fruit is the perfect grill fodder, it’s mainly sugars and water so a grilled peach or plum will caramelize quickly and become juicy and “bursty” (I think I should trademark that word!) making it the perfect easy (and healthy) dessert.  My advice however is not to try this with the overly ripe “eat it now or it will turn to mush” fruit, but with a barely ripe or just a bit firm piece.  An over the hill peach will quickly dissinigrate and then you’ll think I was crazy for suggesting this fruit grilling adventure in the first place!

All you need is: fruit, oil or nonstick spray, and a grill.

Cut your larger fruit like peaches, plums, apples, bananas (leave the skin on!), oranges in half, really big fruit like melons and pineapple in slices

Coat the fruit with a bit of oil or nonstick spray (never ever spray the grill, assuming that is that you like your eyebrows where they are!)

Grill until fruit is softened and juicy

It’s that simple!

If you’ve got berries or other small fruits a grill basket (usually sold for grilling fish) will keep them from falling through the grates, or you can even wrap them in foil like little berry packets!  Now that you’ve got the basics, you start mixing things up… what about throwing some rum and brown sugar on that pineapple before grilling… sort of a pineapple upside down with no cake? You could also grill a couple of bananas throw all of it on some vanilla ice cream and call it your grilled banana split.  Your family will think you’re a genius and you won’t have even broken a sweat.  Or you could grill those juicy blueberries you bought at the farmer’s market in a foil packet with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drop of honey, and make a grilled parfait with vanilla yogurt and granola or crumbled cookies.  It’s the same effect as taking an everyday boring old apple and baking it with brown sugar  and cinnamon in the fall, instant yumminess only vaguely reminiscent of it’s initial form.  BUT… you don’t want to heat up your house with an oven do you? No way, so throw those fruits on the grill instead for a fantastic dessert with little fuss, very few ingredients, and minimal impact on your waistline. No excuses about marshmallows being the only appropriate open fire dessert, think outside the graham cracker and grill a little fruit instead!