Pull a leaf from pineapple top to check for ripeness. And then grill it to serve with roast lamb rack as a perfect – and healthy – combo.
Bring back 70s dinner parties!
Grilled pineapple! OMG, how much more 70s can it get? Isn’t it a classic throwback to prawn cocktails and canapes on a stick? Out there with jellied salads and flambé bananas? I know that throwbacks are the new trendy but can you seriously serve grilled pineapple without being ironic about it?
That and similar comments I hear you utter seeing my lamb with the blasted, both figuratively and literally, pineapple slices. I know all that but food trends, especially when you promote things completely hideous only because they are trendy (kale and quinoa, I’m talking to y’all!), are totally stupid.
Don't follow food trends
What can be less reliable than a trend to form your diet? Produce doesn’t change, unless genetically modified or organically enhanced. Foodstuffs don’t suddenly become more or less healthy or change their nutritional values; we might only be more or less aware of those.
Which is obviously a good thing, like learning that it’s beneficial to eat plenty of plants and not so fantastic to gorge on pasta and bread. But that information doesn’t usually shape food trends – it’s fads and Instagrammability or its predecessors that do.
And I am a sworn enemy of fads and nutritionally groundless exclusions. Eat what’s tasty and what you enjoy, that’s what I always say, applying the principles of common sense and moderation to the less-healthy-but-so-delightful stuff.
Pineapple: nutritional benefits
Fun fact: pineapple is nutritionally meant to be eaten with meat as it contains enzymes that help break down meat protein and thus make a carnivoral feast easier to digest.
Amazingly for such sweet fruit, pineapple is relatively low in calories with only 50 per 100g. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals but it also has some anti-inflammatory qualities and – interestingly for me – helps relieve arthritic pains. Go pineapple! If only it wasn’t such a bother to pick a ripe one and to core and cut it…
The first issue I have successfully sussed, thanks to my local fruit and veg market stall owner. If you can pull a leaf out of the pineapple top, the fruit is ripe. It’s a foolproof tip that has never let me down.
How to cut and slice a pineapple
Preparing it to eat is a little cumbersome. But of all the seemingly useless kitchen tools, the pineapple corer is actually something that works. They come in three sizes, conveniently labelled by the weight of the fruit but I tend to use a size bigger for my fruit in order to waste less, stingy as I am. The tool pulls out a lovely spiral which is easily cut into individual slices.
If all you have is a big knife, top and tail the fruit and set it over a shallow bowl. Then carve the skin off strip by strip, taking off rather more than you think you should, to get rid of the ‘eyes’. You can now slice it into wedges, as thick as you like.
Apart from the blatant abomination of Hawaiian pizza, pineapple is rather gorgeous in savoury dishes. It grills like an angel and a little bit of hot spice enhances its flavour.
Pineapple with roast lamb rack
Which is what I’ve done here: I’ve seasoned the lamb rack with ‘fruity’ paprika and cinnamon (as any Greek will tell you, cinnamon is marvellous on lamb) and the pineapple with a little cayenne pepper.
The lamb rack is very simply and very medium rare roasted in the oven, then carved into cutlets and adorned with pineapple slices off the griddle pan. Use an ordinary frying pan if you haven’t got a ridged one – the ridge marks are just for show of course.
The final touch is a sprinkling of fresh mint leaves over the dish, and thin slices of fresh chilli to intensify the heat, obviously optional. I serve it with some baby new potatoes for a glorious feast.