You know I am all about fresh, seasonal and local foods but occasionally one has to bust out and eat foods that are just aren’t grown in the climate where you live. For me one of these foods is pineapple. A source of vitamins A and C, it is also known for its anti-inflamitory properties. Most of all it just tastes so good! This thorny tropical beauty received its appellation from the English because of its resemblance to the pine cone. Most other Europeans call it ananas derived from the Paraguayan nana meaning “excellent (or exquisite fruit).” Aptly named I think.
Choosing a pineapple can be challenging as they are often picked before their peak flavor and shipped. A good rule of thumb is to choose one that is slightly soft to the touch with a full strong golden color and no sign of greening. The leaves should be crisp and green with no signs of yellow or brown tips. If you must choose a underripe fruit, leave at room temperature for a couple of days. Otherwise, store it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to three days. Fresh pineapple is available year-round with a peak season from March to July. Hawaii is now the leading producer of this fruit but you may see them from Mexico, Florida or Puerto Rico. It is native to Central and South America.
It is difficult to determine the sweetness of the pineapple ahead of time which is how I came about grilling it. I recently purchased one that disappointed upon opening. The flavor was dull and flat so I started to think about what I could do to enhance its deficits. I decided grilling was the answer as it brings out the natural sugars along with the addition of a little sweetener. I was thrilled at the end result and served it for Sunday breakfast which delighted my diners.
1 ripe fresh pineapple
Extra-virgin olive oil, enough to baste each side
Honey (preferably local to your area), enough to baste both sides of each pineapple slice
Flaked sea salt (such as Maldon’s)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 scoop of plain yogurt for each sliced served
Enough fresh blueberries to scatter over the top of each (other berries could be substituted)
- Cut off the top of the pineapple and discard leaves. Slice the very bottom off as well leaving a flat surface for it to stand.
- Stand the pineapple on a cutting board and using a sharp knife slice from top to bottom to remove the outer skin.
- Lay it on its side and cut rings about 1-inch thick.
- Core each ring (cut out the middle) using a sharp pairing knife or a corer.
- Heat the grill to high heat. If you don’t have a grill, you can use a grill pan or place under the broiler on high.
- Baste each side of the rings with the olive oil.
- Place each pineapple ring on the hot grill and grill until the pineapple begins to soften and grill marks are apparent. Turn and repeat on other side.
- When grilling is complete, baste the tops with honey and sprinkle with the sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Remove from grill and place on a plate.
- Place a dollop of plain yogurt in the middle and scatter the tops with blueberries or whatever berry you like and is in season. Raspberries or blackberries make a good substitute.
You will be amazed at how this transforms the flavor. The carmelization that occurs from the grilling brings out the natural sugars and the addition of the honey adds yet another element of sweetness balancing the tartness of the fruit and tang of the plain yogurt. The berries give it color, texture and another flavor profile.
I served this for breakfast but it could also be a dessert. Instead of yogurt, use vanilla bean ice cream. Again I urge you to be creative and make it your own. Would love to hear what you come up with! Enjoy!