Grilled Pineapple for Dinner and Dessert by Janel Ovrut Funk in The Veggie Table, July 11, 2009
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Pineapple is one of those fabulous fruits that takes my taste buds on a tropical vacation! I can eat pineapple plain, no problem, but lately I’ve been grilling it to get that hint of smoky summer flavor.
Grilling pineapple, or any fresh fruit, is pretty simple. All you have to do is cut your pineapple (or peaches or even watermelon) in thin rounds or strips and grill on either side for about 5 minutes — or until they have those neat grill marks. Living in a Boston apartment, I don’t have the luxury of an outdoor grill, so I improvise with my stove top grill pan and still get great results.
Double the Pineapple Pleasure
Grilled pineapple makes a great dessert, but don’t count it out for your main course, too (plus, you get two servings of fruit!). Recently, I was grilling up some tempeh for a simple sandwich and decided to top it with pineapple pieces for a Hawaiian-style, tangy dinner.
Wait, What’s Tempeh?
Never heard of tempeh? It’s a must-know for vegetarians or the veg-curious. Often used as a meat-replacement, tempeh is a cultured cake of soybeans and/or grains — it’s been a staple in Indonesia for more than 2,000 years. Tempeh is traditionally made by cooking and de-hulling soybeans, inoculating them with a culturing agent, and then incubating the soybeans overnight until they form a solid cake.
Sounds creepy, right? Just think of it in the same way that other fermented foods are processed — like cheese or yogurt. Tempeh is a great source of vegetarian protein. A serving of the tempeh I picked up at Whole Foods gave me 11 grams of protein. Look for it in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, near the tofu.
But Back to Making My Sandwich
To make my tropical sammy, I cut my tempeh into four slices and baked them in the toaster oven for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Once the pieces were cooked through and started to toast, I spread on some BBQ sauce and cooked for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I layered a slice of soy mozzarella and two grilled pineapple rounds on a whole-wheat English muffin. Then, I added in one slice of baked tempeh and chowed down.
The grilled pineapple and BBQ sauce combo works wonders on veggie burgers or grilled tofu, too. Or, for the flexitarians, add the pineapple with a sweet and sour marinade on salmon. It’s a nice flavor change from the usual lettuce and tomato and a great way to add fruit into your entrée.
And Don’t Forget Dessert
When you buy a whole fresh pineapple, it can feel like you have more than you know what to do with. To use up more of it, I grilled more pineapple rings and topped them off with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream while they were still warm. The combo of sweet and tangy flavors, along with hot pineapple melting the cool ice cream, made for a fun, flavorful dessert. Plus, I didn’t feel like I was on pineapple overload because they were served in such different ways.