Summer brings a bounty of wonderful flavors. Economical, summer-easy ideas for fresh fruit help you make the best of your food budget and shorten meal preparation time so you have more time to enjoy summer fun!
Grilled or Fresh Fruit Skewers
Alternate bite-sized chunks of fresh, just ripe peaches, mangoes, and pineapple on bamboo skewers. Grill over medium heat and baste with fruit syrup or warmed honey.
Grill wedges of fresh pears and Granny Smith apples placed on skewers along with 1-inch sections of precooked chicken or turkey sausage. Baste the skewers with 1/2 cup apple juice mixed with 1/4 cup honey; it desired, add a dash of cinnamon.
Use kiwi, grapes, peaches, pineapple, strawberries, and mangoes, for fresh fruit skewers. Alternate with chunks of cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, or star fruit. Or slice melons into 1/2 to 1-inch thicknesses and use small cookie cutters to cut out shapes such as stars, hearts, flowers, or butterflies. Serve the chilled skewers in a melon bowl or boat.
Summer Fruit Crisps
Delicious fruit crisps (or crumbles) are a quick and simple way to use many fruits. To prepare fruit, rinse well, then toss with 1/4-1/2 cup granulated sugar (depending on the tartness of the fruit) and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup brown sugar with 1/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup regular oats; cut in 1/4 cup chilled butter until mixture is crumbly. Add prepared fruit to a well-buttered baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and fruit juices are bubbling. You can also bake fruit crisps in individual ramekins for 15-20 minutes. Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream!
In addition to fruit crisp mainstays like apples, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, or plums, try different combinations like peach-blueberry, raspberry-pear, apple-cherry, apple-cranberry, or apple-blackberry. Or try an all-berry medley using raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or marionberries. Layering the fruits preserves their integrity and helps prevent a mushy fruit crisp. Depending on the fruit you choose and its' ripeness (riper fruits are more juicy), the addition of 1 tablespoon cornstarch to the prepared fruit/sugar/lemon juice mixture can keep the crisp from becoming too runny. Simply sprinkle the cornstarch onto the fruit along with the sugar.
For a variation, substitute crushed graham crackers, cookie crumbs, granola, or buttered bread crumbs, for the 1/3 cup oats. For the topping mixture, you can also experiment with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, or cardamom; or add in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the prepared fruit/sugar/lemon juice mixture. Sprinkle on walnuts, toasted pecans or almonds before baking.
Good for You Fresh Fruit Salads
With so many fruit combinations possible, you can come up with a new fruit salad every week! Chunk or slice fresh fruits, toss them together, chill, and serve. A few to try:
Serve any fruit salad combination plain, or toss fruits with sweetened shredded coconut, poppy seeds, orange juice, sweetened lemon juice, whipped topping, vanilla or fruit yogurt, chilled vanilla pudding, or Lemon Fruit Dressing.
Lemon Fruit Dressing
1/2 cup lemon yogurt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons honey
Lori Nawyn is the author of Peachy, releasing August from Familius.