Vegan Cooking Tips: Late Summer Fruit
By Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD, CCE
Want to make the most of the fruit available during this time of year? Here are some quick ideas for late summer produce that go beyond the usual fruit salad:
Melons – such as casaba, honeydew, cantaloupe, or watermelon – can make a refreshing treat for the end of summer, or for any other time!
Peel and seed two types of melon, such as cantaloupe and honeydew. Cut into chunks and purée in the blender. Pour into individual serving dishes or ice trays and freeze. You now have a refreshing fruit ice! If you want to take your fruit ice to the next level, here are some ideas:
- If you would like your fruit ice to have a 'grainy' texture, much like granita, stir the mixture approximately every two minutes as it freezes. This will create a marbleized texture.
- If you would like an ‘adult’ dessert, add a bit of vegan liquor to the mixture.
- If you would like to serve your fruit ice in beverages, such as iced tea or lemonade, you might want to enhance the flavor with a small amount of vanilla extract.
- And, of course, you can always freeze the mixture in small paper cups, add a popsicle stick, and have a mobile treat!
PEACHES, APRICOTS, AND STRAWBERRIES
Who says fruit sauce has to be apple? If you have an overabundance of ripe or very ripe peaches, apricots, or strawberries, simply wash and pit the peaches and apricots. Then, purée with or without strawberries in a blender until you attain a smoothness that you like.
- If you have a bag-and-seal machine, you can 'can' the sauce and keep in the refrigerator for at least two months. You can freeze your sauce and thaw it as desired to serve over sorbet or cakes or to mix into hot cereal. You can also use this sauce to make a base for smoothies, to mix into muffin or cake batters, or to make a base for a vinegar-and-fruit salad dressing.
- If you would like a fast-to-prepare dessert, you can blend your fruit sauce with soft silken tofu, sweeten to taste, and pour into a prepared pie shell. (Or make your own shell by mashing cookies together with a small amount of vegan margarine and then smooshing the mixture into a pie pan.) Refrigerate for three hours to allow to set, or freeze for a frozen pie.
In addition, just-ripe strawberries can be washed, deleafed, dried, and then frozen whole. They make a great snack to pop out of the freezer and into your mouth!
Creative treats using plums may take a bit more work, but they are worth it! Create a plum pie by pitting and slicing ripe plums. Be warned that this process can be a bit messy. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place plums in a pot and heat with a small amount of apple juice, cooking until just mushy. Pour the plum filling into a frozen pie crust and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until crust is golden. Allow to cool before serving.
Plums also make a great fruit compote. Place sliced, pitted plums in a pot with sliced apples and dried apricots. Just cover with water. Cook slowly over a low flame. Season plum mixture to taste with fresh or powdered ginger, orange zest, and cinnamon. If you need more sweetness, add some maple syrup or orange juice concentrate. Cook until all of the fruit is very soft. Pour into airtight containers and refrigerate. Your compote will last for at least four weeks in the refrigerator. Stir compote into hot cereal; top sorbet with it; serve it as a condiment with grilled tofu, seitan, or tempeh; or create your own rice dessert by mixing cooked, steamed rice with the compote and a splash of rice or soymilk.