Fruit has always been part of a healthy Jewish diet, and all those mentioned in Genesis and beyond are still around today.
Thanks to interstate and international commerce, we can get fruits from all over the world all year round. Reading the countries of origin on the packaging is like taking a trip around the world. Kiwi from New Zealand, oranges from Florida and California, grapes from Chili and Mexico, berries from Brazil. We get fruits and vegetables from Israel and Thailand, Venezuela and beyond.
However good these fruits are, there’s nothing like locally grown, in-season fruits — especially in summer, from sweet, juicy peaches to pineapple, mango, berries, cherries and more. Blueberries are sweet and huge this time of year and, along with strawberries and raspberries, peaches and melons.
My dad used to grow cantaloupes in part of our Massachusetts garden. One summer he even managed a watermelon. We had a blueberry bush almost the length of our garage and strawberries in a patch that often broke free of its confines and grew a strawberry right in the middle of the lawn.
Summer fruits are loaded with vitamins and sweet goodness that can take the place of any other sweet treats in camp lunchboxes and brown bag work lunches.
Don’t miss the local, homegrown fruits this summer. Enjoy them fresh from the vines, in salads and — my favorite — grilled to perfection.
Grilled Peaches with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar (Dairy)
4 peaches, cut in half, pits removed
1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2/3 to 1 cup soft goat cheese
Good quality, flavored or plain, thick balsamic vinegar
Heat the grill to medium high heat.
Cut the peaches in half, remove the pits and place on a plate. Set aside.
Mix the vanilla and brown sugar with the melted butter. Set aside.
Brush the cut side of the peaches with the melted butter mixture and place on the grill, cut side down. Let cook, undisturbed for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden and easily moved. Turn and brush the cut side again. Place on a plate.
Scoop a small scoop of goat cheese or other cheese into the hole of each peach half. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and any remaining brown sugar, butter mix. Serves 4 to 8 as appetizer, side dish to grilled salmon or dessert.
Grilled Pineapple with Brown Sugar Bourbon Glaze (Pareve or Dairy)
1 pineapple, cored, cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick slices
4 to 5 Tbsp. butter melted
3 to 4 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
OPTIONAL: 1-2 Tbsp. bourbon
OPTIONAL: Raspberry or chocolate flavored balsamic vinegar
Heat the grill to medium high.
Mix the butter, brown sugar, ginger and bourbon in a small bowl. Mix to dissolve the sugar (it’s fine if it is not all dissolved).
Brush the glaze on one side of the pineapple slices and place them, glaze side down on the grill. Cook until grill marks show, about 1 to 4 minutes. Brush the top side, flip carefully and grill until marks show. Place on a platter. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serves 4 to 8.
Grilled Strawberry, Cantaloupe and Honeydew Skewers with Midori and Lime Glaze (Pareve)
1/3 cup Midori liqueur
1/8 to 1/4 cup superfine sugar
Juice of one large lime
1/2 to 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
2 cups each cantaloupe and honeydew cubes, about 1-inch
12 strawberries, hulled
GARNISH: Finely minced mint leaves
Mix all glaze ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Stir frequently to dissolve the sugar.
Cut the melon and wash and hull the berries. Pat dry with paper towels. Place fruits in a large bowl. Pour the glaze over the fruit and mix gently. Take 4 to 6 skewers and alternate the fruits onto the skewers. Grill over medium high heat, turning as grill marks appear. Turn to grill on all sides, 1 to 4 minutes per side. Brush with additional glaze before serving. Makes 4 to 6 skewers.
Grilled (or Not) Watermelon Pizza (Dairy)
1 small, seedless watermelon
1/3 cup sugar
2 to 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste
2 cups mixed berries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
1 to 2 sliced kiwi fruit, bananas, peaches, nectarines, etc. — your choice
Cut the watermelon in half. Cut one full, round slice, abut 1 inch thick, from each half. Set aside. Reserve remaining watermelon pieces for another use.
Mix the sugar, water and lemon juice together. Stir until dissolved.
Mix the yogurt with the sugar and vanilla. Set aside.
Cut the kiwi fruit into half slices. Slice the peaches or other fruit to bite-sized pieces and place in bowl. Set aside.
Heat the grill to medium high. Brush the watermelon rounds with the glaze and place, glaze side down, on the grill. Cook until grill marks show and then brush the uncooked side with the glaze, turn and cook another few minutes until grill marks show. Carefully place on a large platter, as the water in the melon may heat to boiling and “pop.” Repeat with the other piece.
Let cool for several minutes. Divide the yogurt mixture evenly between both pieces and spread gently. Scatter the berries and other fruits over the yogurt and cut the “pizza” into wedges. Serves 8+.