Just as spring brings its bounty of fresh veggies and herbs, certain fruits are also ripe for picking — and adding to menus. Use these seasonal stars across all categories to reap the fruits of your labor, juice up sales, and give guests variety.
A superb salad needs balance. To stand out, it features good texture and a blend of flavors to create a salad that guests crave and represents the flavors of the season. Use strawberries to add sweetness to a salad with bitter arugula and provide that juicy texture. Combine grilled watermelon and salty feta for a classic pairing for spring and summer. Or consider this spinach salad with Peak Fresh Produce® Oranges and Avocados with pomegranate seeds and a Village Garden® Raspberry Vinaigrette to brighten up your menu.
Saucy But Sweet
Punch up your house barbecue sauces, dips, or glazes with fresh fruits. It helps add another layer of dimension to the dish. Blueberries and peaches work exceptionally well in barbecue, while apricots and blackberries are perfect for demi-glace. Pair them with roasted meat, burgers, or grilled dishes, where the smoky notes will add even more complexity and flavor.
Chutneys and salsas also get a boost from fresh spring and summer fruit like mangos, kiwis, and berries. They pair perfectly with fried appetizers like crab wontons or samosas. For salsa, balance flavors and textures by combining a few types, such as papaya or cantaloupe, with red onion, jalapeño, and a squeeze of lime. For chutney, play around with deep flavors like plums or figs and roast before combining with dried chilis and aromatics.
Sweet Meets Heat
The ‘swicy’ combo is blossoming this year, and the pairing possibilities are endless. The popular Mexican street food mango con chile is a simple and cost-effective treat that combines ornately cut fresh mango, lime juice, ground red chile or chipotle pepper, and salt. Or take a pineapple-habanero glaze to pump up your chicken wings for an appetizer or LTO that will fly off your menu.
Pickling fruit can help preserve the bounty of the season while also adding some tangy, salty, and sour notes to a dish. You can use your basic pickling brine for all sorts of fruit, including plums, which are perfect alongside grilled pork chops, or watermelon rind, which makes a fun side dish for any kind of barbecue. And with pickled strawberries being one of the top trends this year1, you can utilize it in desserts and cocktails.
Raise a Glass
We’ve seen an array of garnishes in trending cocktails, but fruit will always be a safe bet. However, you don’t have to stick to lime wedges or dried lemon peels to jazz up your offerings. Make jam with surplus or less-than-beautiful summer fruit, like peaches or apricots, and blend the jam into cocktails throughout the year. Pineapple peels can also be used for a drink called tepache, a fermented beverage of Mexican origin. And with the warm weather, no guest can resist a frozen banana daiquiri, or spicy honey paloma with fresh grapefruit.
Fruit Meets Meat
Tropical fruits like papaya, kiwi, pineapple, as well as figs, contain enzymes that help tenderize meat while also infusing subtle hints of flavor, so these marinades do double duty in the kitchen. Combine papaya pulp with brown sugar and soy sauce for an easy marinade for tougher cuts of meat for main dishes. Or take this tropical Allegiance® Ribs platter, for example, where the flavors of West Creek® Jala-Mango BBQ Sauce, pineapple, plantains, and bananas make this dish pop.
We can’t talk about fresh fruit without dessert, the most obvious menu category for our seasonal bounty. Highlight jewel-toned stone fruit in a galette or an open-faced pie. Summer fruits are a terrific addition to sorbet and gelato, so Piancone® Raspberry Sorbet is the perfect light but tasty after-dinner treat. Another late summer crop, passionfruit, works well in a creamy curd, either for a trifle or baked into bars — making for a unique dessert guests will love.
1Datassential FoodBytes 2023 Food Trends