For most of us, fruit typically makes an appearance in our daily lives in the form of breakfast, snacks and sometimes dessert. While all those menu moments are worthy of the sweetness that fruit can provide, it leaves a big hole in what for most of us is the biggest meal of the day: dinner.
I see that as an opportunity. Including fruit as an element of dinner makes it that much easier to get the daily requirement of fruits and vegetables into our diet, without making it seem like a chore. In fact, it feels more like an unexpected sweet treat.
Working it into the meal isn’t that difficult, and whenever I do it, I wonder why I don’t do so more often. Fruit pairs beautifully with lots of savory foods. Chicken, fish, pork, even vegetables like bell peppers, sweet potatoes and winter squash, all go well with fruit.
Here are a few easy ways to work a little fruit into your dinner plan.
Salsa, salsa, salsa: Fruit is easy to make into a bright and fun salsa to serve alongside grilled fish, chicken or pork. Just take your favorite pico de gallo recipe and substitute some or all of the tomatoes with the fruit of your choice. My favorites include mangos, pineapple or peaches. Even apples make a lovely, crunchy salsa.
Grilling: While you have the meat on the grill, throw on a few spears of pineapple or peaches that have been cut in half.
Fresh herbs: It’s amazing how adding fresh herbs to fruit automatically makes it feel like a savory dish. Chunks of melon tossed with olive oil, fresh basil and mint make a refreshing side dish. Pears tossed in oil, a little sugar and chopped rosemary before roasting add a touch of elegance to any meal. Cilantro added to sticks of mango and jicama can give a Mexican meal a much-needed dose of freshness and crunch.
Roasting: Roasting fruit gives it an added depth of flavor and intensifies its sweetness, as is the case with this Pork Loin With Honey-Thyme Roasted Pineapple. The fruit is tossed with a mixture of honey and fresh thyme before it’s roasted, which happens while the pork is resting. The result is a dish that’s easy to make, and surprisingly sophisticated in flavor. Perfect for Mother’s Day or any occasion.
Pork Loin With Honey-Thyme Roasted Pineapple
Note: Roasting the pineapple with fresh thyme gives it a flavor that pairs beautifully with the pork loin. From Meredith Deeds.
• 3 lb. pork loin
• 1 tsp. salt, divided
• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tbsp. honey
• 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
• 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
• 1 pineapple, cored and cut into 1-in. cubes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pat the pork with paper towels to dry. Season pork with 3/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Place in a roasting pan and roast for 45 to 65 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Remove from oven and tent loosely with foil.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, thyme and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the pineapple to the bowl and toss to coat. Place pineapple on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly brown.
Place the pork on a cutting board and cut into slices. Serve with the roasted pineapple.
Nutrition information per serving:
Fat 15 g
Sodium 460 mg
Carbohydrates 26 g
Saturated fat 5 g
Total sugars 21 g
Protein 37 g
Cholesterol 105 mg
Dietary fiber 2 g
Exchanges per serving: 1 fruit, ½ carb, 5 medium-fat protein.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @meredithdeeds.