I used to be fed some seriously weird things for dinners when I was a kid. I grew up in Poland, in the bleak times behind the Iron Curtain, with good quality meat and fish scarce, if not rationed. In constant shortage of almost everything we resorted to turning (cheap and made from available ingredients) desserts into mainstream sustenance.
I don’t know where that idea came from as I can’t think of anywhere else in the world that would do the same apart from an odd parsnip cake at dim-sum or Thanksgiving sweet potato bake. The Polish way is a main course of crêpes, dumplings with blueberry filling, pasta dressed with cottage cheese and sugar, rice pudding, fruit soup with noodles and sugar sprinkled latkes. I promise I’m not making it up.
Kids will usually love being served sweets for dinner but I hated it every time a berry-sprinkled meal rode onto the table. It certainly was the needs-must policy, in the times when – even if nobody starved - everyone’s diet was unbearably dull.
But I’m not going to knock fruit out of savoury dishes where it certainly has its place. This week some suggestions on how to add to our five-a-day using fruit in preparing dinner dishes. And I’m not going to cheat on technicality, presenting only tomato dishes, which is fruit of course but never used in a fruity fashion. No – I’ve got blueberries, grapes, plums and more for you.
Blueberries make a wonderful sauce for meat (not dumplings). They go fantastically well with roast duck breast, or with roast pork loin. Pork is a good choice in general to pair with fruit: you could try pork steaks with clementines when they are in season. Or check out gammon hock served with plum sauce, it’s excellent.
More plums, or peaches or nectarines as the three will work equally well in the following recipes. Baked fennel with plums can be a standalone main course if served with crusty bread. And an impressive though easy starter of scallop ceviche uses fresh plums or nectarines too.
I can actually imagine having just grilled pineapple for dinner on its own, if drizzled with chilli sauce and chargrilled. But for a wholesome meal serve it with duck or lamb rack.
Melon in savoury salads is a classic, so I’ll just mention smoked salmon with melon or chicken, melon and feta.
But you might not realise that grapes can be cooked with meat too: with lamb breast (a hugely underrated cut) or with chicken.
And I couldn’t end this week’s post without perversely offering a cake made with vegetables: courgette loaf cake, or What To Do With All Those Courgettes From One Miserable Plant.
Take care and cook with fruit!
pork steaks with clementines