I’m always trying to put a new spin on seasonal ingredients or ingredients that have gained popularity based on culinary trends. Like with fruit: Cooked fruit is very fascinating — many believe fruit is meant to be consumed fresh; however, cooked fruit is unexpected and delicious. Fruits such as melons, mangos, pears, strawberries, and watermelons are great to use in a savory dish, and on the flip side, I also like to use savory items for dessert, like with my red bell pepper caramel. These are some of my newest ideas for how to make a standard seasonal ingredient extraordinary.
Bell pepper: Bell peppers are naturally sweet, so why not use them in something sweet? I don’t think many people would think of extracting the sweetness into something like caramel, but the results are pretty phenomenal.
Mango: I love making mango french fries, which is when I wrap mango sticks in phyllo dough and fry them in a little vegetable oil until crispy.
Pears: Next time you’re making your favorite mushroom soup, try puréeing some freshly chopped pear and mixing it into the soup for a burst of flavor. You can also sauté pear slices in a little brown butter and use them as garnish.
Orange: Some people may shy away when they see marmalade in a recipe, but it’s actually pretty easy to make. I like taking slices of oranges and cooking them with a tablespoon or two of sugar until they get the consistency of marmalade. This is delicious served over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Watermelon: If you’re serving a tough crowd (aka those who don’t eat meat), grilling watermelon steaks is a really refreshing and satisfying way to serve up some steaks, if you will.
Strawberries: I bet you’ve never thought of using strawberries in a savory dish, but the acidity from the berries is the best complement to a light piece of grilled fish. Take equal parts strawberries and tomatoes and purée with black pepper and vinegar.