Summertime is fruit time. Fruits are ripe and at the peak of punch with sweetness and tang. But don’t relegate fruit to dessert or the occasional salad. The basic characteristics of most fruit lend themselves to savory dishes from appetizers to soup to main dishes.
These preparations are perfect for summer entertaining because they are not familiar fare, in appearance or taste. The fruit provides bright and sweet tastes while combining the fruit with a member of the onion family along with herbs gives us the savory elements. The result is intriguing appearance and beguiling, lip-smacking mouthfuls.
APPETIZER - BLUEBERRY with MINT on CROSTINI
Blueberries love to pair up with mint and cheese. Young Gruyere is the cheese choice here. It’s mild, slightly earthy, a bit nutty and seems to highlight both the sweetness and the tartness of the blueberries.
2 teaspoons evoo
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons mint leaves chopped fine
2 cups fresh blueberries, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices baguette
5 ounces gruyere cheese, grated for quick melting
Garnish - small mint sprigs
Heat the evoo in a skillet. Saute the shallots for about 3 minutes until softened. Add the mint, blueberries, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for just about one minute. Turn off heat.
Brush both sides of the baguette slices with evoo and lightly toast. Cover the slices with the cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted.
Top the cheese with the blueberry mixture. Top each with a mint sprig. Serve warm.
SOUP with ORANGE and FENNEL
This is a late spring, early summer dish. At this time, oranges and tangerines are at the peak of sweetness and robust flavor. A coarse textured soup will emphasize those qualities. Orange and licorice is a classic combination so you could use anise or basil in place of fennel. The taste will be somewhat different but still lip-smacking yummy.
1 large bulb fennel (about 1 pound), chopped
4 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped
1 cup white wine, preferably a Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups orange or tangerine sections, roughly chopped
2 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed, soaked in water for 5-10 minutes, then squeezed of most moisture
Garnish - fennel frond
How easy can you get? Process all ingredients to desired smoothness. Put in soup bowls topped with a frond of fennel.
ROAST PORK LOIN with MANGO, SAGE and ROSEMARY
Pork and fruit make a lovely couple and mango’s complex tastes pair exceptionally well with the mild and sweet taste of roast pork. Mango’s taste depends on ripeness. An unripe mango is sweet and sour with an astringent edge, A ripe mango is sweeter with more fruity components and hints of spice. This recipe shows off all these flavors with a sauce using not quite ripe fruit and savory herbs with small chunks of ripe mango.
Serves four to six
1 1/2 pound pork loin, preferably roasted with a paste of sage, rosemary and garlic
1 tablespoon evoo
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated or minced
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped fine
1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped fine
1 mango, not quite ripe, peeled and roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
1 ripe mango, peeled and cut into small dice.
Heat evoo in medium pan. Add onion and saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, sage and rosemary; stir and cook for another 2 minutes.
Process the unripe mango with contents of pan until smooth.
Heat sauce until hot. Remove from heat. Add the diced ripe mango to the sauce just before serving.
Note: You may prepare sauce through Step 2 several hours before serving.