We’ve been trying to keep our meals light and interesting, and our grill has played center stage. Now if you’re thinking that grilling is all about heavy meals of barbecued meats, you’ll be surprised what other foods actually are perfect for the grill.

Setting the Stage for Grilled Fruit Salads

If you’re mixing your grilled fruit in a green salad, be sure to choose your salad green carefully. Grilling adds a deeper flavor to fruit, so something hearty like arugula, romaine, watercress, or a mix of colorful greens might be best to form the bed of the salad and to compliment.

A grilled fruit salad also does well with a light vinaigrette dressing, made from basic ingredients like olive oil, salt and pepper, and your choice of vinegar. However, you might enjoy a creamy salad dressing made with honey and yogurt. Or perhaps a mixture of brown sugar, heavy cream, and red wine vinegar sounds tasty to you. There are plenty of possibilities to compliment your grilled fruit salad.

Choose Fruit that Suits the Grill

Once you’ve got the stage set, then it’s a matter of choosing fruits that grill well. Apricot halves are first up, combined with toasted nuts and thin slices of bacon, this makes a delightful gourmet twist with any salad green. Try grilling pineapple and mango slices, garnish with fresh mint leaves, and mix with crunchy cold butter lettuce for a surprising salad that will really please your dinner guests or family.

Even fruits like plums, watermelon, peaches, and nectarines are good to grill for salads and it doesn’t have to be a large salad of greens, either. For instance, cut watermelon into four inch squares and grill quickly on one side, flip and grill on the other side until you see grill marks form. Then serve on a bed of arugula and top with feta cheese, and drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over. You now have a gourmet salad with just a few ingredients. Grilling the watermelon makes all the difference.

A grilled fruit salad could also be exclusively made with grilled fruit. Try grilling a whole pineapple, cut lengthwise in half, treating the pineapple as the fruit bowl. Top with small pieces of fruit such as red pears, kiwi, bananas, or cactus fruit and set the grill on high, grilling just until the pineapple chars a little. Remove from the grill and serve as is or with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Both halves of the pineapple becomes the salad itself.

Mixing up Main Dishes With Grilled Fruit

For a heartier main dish, try putting chunks of fruit on a kabob skewer alternating with firm pieces of fish like halibut, swordfish, or salmon, or shrimp, scallops, or even pieces of chicken. Grill until everything chars a bit, then serve over brown rice. Most people expect kabobs to have vegetables, so the grilled fruit makes a nice surprise. Of course, some vegetables compliment certain fruit, as well. Sweet onion on the kabob adds a nice flavor contrast to pineapple, for instance. Just use your creativity when you put your fruit kabobs together for the grill.

Grilled fruit can also be a garnish for beef, chicken, fish, or even ham. Cut wedges of papaya, mango, pineapple, and maybe a red pepper and sweet onion, and grill until slightly charred. Then cool and cut into small pieces and toss together with a light vinaigrette. This grilled ‘fruit salsa’ makes a perfect garnish. Make it spicy or savory if you wish by adding hot sauce, a bit of cayenne pepper, or some fresh herbs.

Don’t Forget Grilled Fruit Desserts

A variety of fruits can be grilled to produce a tasty topping for ice cream, pound cake, or other treats. Grilled bananas topped with ice cream and caramel sauce is a favorite that comes to mind immediately. You can even put chunks of chocolate on while the bananas grill to create another layer of flavor.

Fruit compote made on the grill is another twist on a favorite. Rather than just boil or bake fruit pieces in a pan with a liquid, put the fruit on the grill on high heat, quickly grilling until you have grill marks and the fruit is softened. Move the fruit onto a piece of heavy duty foil, top with a mixture of brown sugar, butter, and honey. Then seal the foil into pouches and continue cooking on the grill until fruit is very soft. The grilling adds a whole new flavor to your traditional compote.

If you have never considered putting fruit on your grill, this is your chance to experiment. It’s surprising how many fruits cook up so well on the open pit. Once you have your fruit grilled, you’ll find all sorts of ways to enjoy them. You may become so hooked on grilling fruit that now find it will be hard to make room for the barbecued meat!


Image: flickr user kimberlykv, licensed by Creative Commons