It’s the final stretch of summer, and the month of August is digging in its heels as autumn approaches. The days are slow and lazy, as the summer sun falls a little lower in the sky, casting lavender and peach hues in the steamy horizon. Life is simple, and food is easy, cool and sweet, especially in the fruit department. Eliptically shaped watermelons, weighing more than a stuffed picnic basket, are cut up and slurped for their refreshing liquid and sweetness. Ripe cantalope melons vie for attention, equally sweet and easy to eat – either dressed up, all fancy, on a plate with salty prosciutto or simply eaten by the wedge. Stone fruits stack our bowls: Nectarines, peaches, apricots and plums mingle in teetering piles, perfumed, tangy, and juicy, begging to be eaten with the promise of a quick pick-me-up when the heat wilts our energy and appetite. Summer eating doesn’t get better than this with no fuss and no kitchen heat. In fact, the only heat action, beyond the sun, is on the barbeque, where, not surprisingly, many of these fruits are quite compatible with our favorite summer activity: grilling.
Grilling fruit is not about cooking, but intensifying the flavor and sweetness of the fruit. The grilling process enhances the fruit as the natural sugars begin to caramelize while the fruit browns. Many types of fruit can be grilled, such as melon, stone fruit, pineapple, mangoes, apples and pears. Have fun experimenting, remembering to lightly oil the fruit before grilling and not to let the fruit blacken too much, because it will become bitter. Grilled fruit can be used with sweet and savory dishes, incorporated into salads and salsas or starring in a dessert such as this:
Grilled Nectarines and Apricots with Greek Yogurt, Honey and Thyme
3 nectarines, halved, pitted
6 apricots, halved, pitted
Whole milk Greek-style yogurt, room temperature, stirred to soften
Prepare grill for medium-hot heat. Halve the fruit and remove the pits. Lightly oil the cut side of the fruit. Place cut side down over direct medium-hot heat. Cook until char marks appear, 3-4 minutes. Arrange fruit, cut-side up, on plates. Serve with a spoonful of Greek yogurt. Drizzle yogurt and fruit with honey. Garnish with thyme sprigs.