Summer is an excellent time for grilling experiments. Although we previously had nearly zero experience grilling fruit at home, we ate grilled grapes once at Ad Hoc (which is one of our all-time favorite restaurants. We live halfway across the country from that place, but Dan still occasionally, wistfully stalks their Facebook page to find out what they are serving that night for dinner.) Inspired by those grapes and a pineapple and jalapeno salsa that we recently served over grilled pork, we created a side salad with grilled fruit, and added chopped fresh jalapeno, crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic reduction to balance out the sweetness of the fruit. The outcome of our little experiment? Successfully delicious!
For our fruit salad, we used 1 peach, 2 apricots, 2 thick rings of pineapple and several grapes threaded on bamboo skewers that had been soaked in water for 15-20 minutes. Other fruits might also work, but these are ones that we thought would pair well together. If you’re using peaches, apricots or other similar “stone fruits,” just make sure you use barely- ripe fruit, or it may get a little mushy when you grill it (we speak from apricot-mush experience.)
To make the balsamic reduction, heat about 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (we used white balsamic because it’s a bit lighter, but regular would also work) over low heat, stirring often, until it thickens to a syrup consistency — about 30-40 minutes.
De-seed a jalapeno (or leave the seeds in if you like it extra spicy) and chop it into tiny pieces. The idea is to have a little bit of spice with every bite of sweet, sweet grilled fruit. (The grilling brings out the sweetness by caramelizing the fruit.)
Brush the pineapple, apricot and peaches with a little olive oil just prior to putting the fruit on the grill.
The key to grilling fruit (in our humble, limited experience) is to grill each type of fruit in stages, depending on how long the fruit will take to cook. This was the most experimental stage of the process. Turning halfway through for each, we grilled the fruit over direct medium heat as follows: 8-10 minutes for peaches, 6-8 minutes for apricots, 5-10 minutes for pineapple, and 3-4 minutes for grapes (keep a close eye on the grapes — they are done when the skin just begins to blister. Any longer than that and the skin just disappears.) Being “one” with your grill and knowing its hot spots and flame quirks is also key here. Rather than a formal recipe, we can only provide our experience on how it worked on our grill — analogous to the sage golf advice given by Chevy Chase in the “be the ball” scene from the classic movie “Caddyshack.” Just let it happen. Also, a donut with no a hole is a danish.
Cut up the grilled fruit and garnish with the chopped jalapeno, crumbled goat cheese (feta would also be good) and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Slightly mushy apricot and skinless grapes aside, we loved how this salad turned out and encourage everyone to give it a go with whatever seasonal fruit you like. Experiment with it — the best possible outcome is an interesting, sweet-spicy-savory side dish, and the worst case is a sweet, grilled fruit topping for ice cream dessert that night or pancakes the next morning.