Cooking is all about combining flavors, and there is something special about the blend of sweet and savory in meals that gives them an added touch of wonderful contrasting flavor. One way I love to add a sweet taste is with fruit; whether it be fresh, cooked, or dried, there are many options to explore.
I’m going to take you through some of my favorite recipe ideas using a variety of fruit items that will really help you kick your meals up a notch. Of course, I always suggest using ingredients that are in season, so take a look at my guide to fall and spring produce for more information and a few helpful tips.
Fresh fruit is often thought of as a palate cleanser, a refreshing dessert, or a tangy topping. From strawberry shortcake to apple pies, fruit often finds its way into and on top of iconic desserts as well as savory dishes. Of course, there are plenty of ways to use freshly chopped fruit to add a sweet touch to savory recipes as well! Take a look at these desserts, rice bowls, salad recipes or even topping foods with a fruity salsa.
RiceSelect® Discoveries™ Sweet Sticky Dessert Rice offers a velvety texture — it’s my go-to grain when I’m craving a creamy sweet treat. Whip up one of your favorite rice desserts and taste the difference for yourself! Take a popular street food to the next level: dessert rice makes for an even richer Sweet Sticky Rice topped with sliced mango! Or, try this twist on bananas foster — Sticky Rice with Caramelized Bananas.
Bowl recipes are ideal for experimenting with new flavor and texture combinations. Take a look at my keys to elevated bowl recipes to see what I mean. I always start with a hearty base of rice, quinoa, orzo or couscous. After choosing a filling foundation, you have free reign to build your ideal bowl, mixing and matching with your favorite ingredients.
Try this Quinoa Burrito-Style Bowl using a base of nutty Red Quinoa with unripe jackfruit, crisp lettuce, creamy beans and crunchy vegetables. Top it off with a delicious sauce made of barbecue sauce, pineapple juice and spicy chipotle peppers. In addition to the jackfruit and pineapple juice, fruits like avocado or tomato provide a refreshing contrast to the spicy sauce!
Salad recipes are also a wonderful way to incorporate fruit into traditionally savory dishes such as in this Strawberry Pearl Couscous Summer Salad, which also contains mint and spinach leaves.
For a few additional options to try with unlikely fruits, here are my favorite refreshing recipes:
Watermelon: Cucumber, Couscous and Watermelon Salad
Mango: Tutti Fruitti Rice Salad
One of my very favorite ways of including fresh fruit in a savory recipe is with a sauce or tasty salsa.
This recipe using Coconut Quinoa and Jerk Chicken is topped with a complementary pineapple, lime and black bean salsa. Add a generous spoonful and enjoy an explosion of flavor with every bite.
If you prefer juicy marinated steak, try this recipe for Steak with Mango Salsa; it’s served over a bed of my favorite RiceSelect Moroccan Couscous, which absorbs every drop of flavor!
Cooking fruit goes beyond jams or oven-baked crumbles. In fact, certain fruits, like plantains or eggplants, taste even better when cooked.
Using this Grilled Jerk Eggplant with Caribbean Rice and Beans recipe as an example, let’s learn how to cook fruit on the grill.
Steps: In a food processor or blender, purée green onions, oil, soy sauce, lime juice, chili pepper, thyme, ginger, allspice, garlic, sugar, cinnamon, pepper, salt and nutmeg; toss mixture with eggplants. Let stand between 30 minutes and 60 minutes. Then, preheat the grill to medium; grease the grates well. Grill eggplants, turning frequently, for 10 to 12 minutes or until charred and tender. Serve jerk eggplant with rice, beans, and lime wedges.
Don’t stop at eggplants – there are plenty of other fruits, like peaches, that taste great when grilled; take a look at my Grilled Dish Ideas for more inspiration!
No grill? No problem! With a great skillet, you can prepare tasty fruit over the stove. Try your hand at preparing some fried plantains for this Jollof Rice recipe.
Steps: To prepare the plantains or tostones, heat oil in a large high-sided skillet set over medium-high heat. In batches, fry plantains for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown all over. Transfer to a paper towel–lined tray. Season with salt.
Citrus fruits are more than a sweet snack; in fact, they have the power to give any dish that necessary touch of acidity to balance out the flavor. A few of my favorites include lime, lemon, orange or mandarins, grapefruit, and pineapple. Bright citrus notes are always in season! Use lemons – freshly picked if possible – along with fresh mint and butter to make this Lemon Couscous, which pairs perfectly with home-cooked lamb shanks. Or, for a traditional Greek meal, try this Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup.
Aside from flavor, citrus also serves as a technique for cooking seafood. If you’re not familiar with ceviche, it’s the process in which the acid from the lemon and lime juices “cooks” the fish or seafood by denaturing the proteins. Try it for yourself by preparing this Peach, Avocado and Fish Ceviche with RiceSelect Royal® Blend.
A touch of citrus might also be just what your sauce or dressing needs, from freshly squeezed lemon juice to a homemade vinaigrette. These are some tasty options for your next hearty salad or bowl recipe.
Dried fruits like apricots make a great addition to any savory springtime dish! This Iranian-inspired Jeweled Rice with Dried Fruit and Nuts looks and tastes as though it were meant for royalty. For an incredibly eye-catching dish with perfectly balanced flavors, I love to pile a rich medley of fruits and nuts atop fragrant Texmati® White Rice.
I can’t get enough of the fruit and nut duo. For another irresistible meal with sweet and savory notes, prepare this elevated Chicken Salad Recipe: loaded with RiceSelect Royal Blend® Rice, seasoned chicken with cranberries, nuts and creamy mayo, this meal will steal the show.
With RiceSelect® and fresh fruits, elevating your meals is effortless. Create an unforgettable dish for your next meal.