Few freezers are without some type of frozen fruit. That’s a good thing because frozen fruit is incredibly nutritious (as long as it’s not packed with sugar or syrup) and endlessly versatile in both sweet and savory dishes. (And with the farmers’ market season in high gear, freezing at home can also be a good way to handle any ripe fruit you won’t quite get to in time.) Check out these fun and unique uses.
1. Barbecue Sauce: Simmer frozen fruit with a little ketchup, Dijon mustard, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, reduced-sodium soy sauce, ground cumin and chili powder. Add chicken broth if desired and reduce the mixture until it reaches a barbecue sauce consistency
2. Sorbet and Sherbet: Puree frozen fruit in a blender or food processor with enough orange juice (for sorbet) or fat-free milk (for sherbet) to make a smooth puree. Freeze until firm. Puree (again) in a food processor just before serving.
3. Punch (Regular or Spiked): Add frozen fruit to your favorite lemonade or limeade. For a cocktail version, add vodka. To make sangria, add frozen fruit to red wine; add a little seltzer if desired.
4. Smoothies: Combine frozen fruit in a blender with yogurt, milk or orange juice, and blend until smooth. (No need for ice, this makes a nice, concentrated smoothie.)
5. Savory Sauces: Simmer frozen fruit with sautéed onions and garlic and add dried herbs like oregano, thyme, chili powder, smoked paprika, coriander and curry powder. Add red wine or chicken broth and simmer until the liquid reduces; add fresh parsley, basil or chives just before serving.
6. Empanadas: Cut 2 (9-inch) refrigerated piecrusts into 4 equal pieces each. Arrange thawed frozen fruit on the center of 4 of the pieces. Top with remaining 4 pieces of piecrust and pinch the edges together to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Sift confectioners’ sugar over top before serving.
7. Gallettes: Place a 9-inch refrigerated piecrust on a large baking sheet and top with thawed frozen fruit. Fold up the edges of the crust to slightly cover the filling (cover the filling by about 2 inches). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon granulated sugar over the fruit. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
8. Cream Cheese Tarts: Lightly sweeten light cream cheese with confectioners’ sugar. Fold in thawed frozen fruit. Spoon mixture into mini phyllo shells (sold in the frozen foods section; thaw before using).
9. Chutney: Simmer frozen fruit with diced yellow onion, raisins, cumin, minced jalapeño, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar; cook until as thick as fruit preserves (if the mixture gets too thick, just add water or broth as necessary).
10. Sweet Dips and Spreads: In a food processor, combine thawed frozen fruit and part-skim ricotta cheese. Puree until blended. Serve with graham crackers or spread on whole-grain toast.
11. Cobbler: Place thawed frozen fruit in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon granulated sugar over top. Top with refrigerated buttermilk biscuits. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown.
12. Cheesecake: Swirl thawed frozen fruit into your favorite cheesecake recipe before baking and/or chilling.
13. Marinade: Puree thawed frozen fruit in a blender with fresh lemon or lime juice, good-quality olive oil, Dijon mustard, and fresh herbs like parsley and basil. Add chives, shallots or scallions for an onion flavor. Use to marinate chicken, fish, shellfish, and pork.
14. Vinaigrette: Jazz up your favorite vinaigrette by adding thawed frozen fruit; puree in a blender and strain if desired.
15. Syrup for Waffles and Pancakes: Simmer frozen fruit with a little orange juice and cornstarch until sauce reaches desired consistency. Strain before using if desired.
Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.