– By Jakob Anderson, Food Writer –
Instead of eating an apple only as a quick breakfast or an afternoon snack, why not pair it with a seared pork chop? Instead of only blending up blueberries in your protein shake, why not create a blueberry and rosemary sauce to pair with beef tenderloin? (Or if you’re really adventurous, it’s best with venison.) Fruits are outstanding in savory dishes, providing balance and complexity. Still consider fruit exclusive to breakfast? Here are five great ways to work them into your other meals.
1. Grilled Pear and Walnut Pesto
This is an amazing condiment for any pork or lamb dish. I warn you though, make this closer to serving time or you might find yourself eating a whole bowl of it before you set out the plates!
5 pears, halved and cored
4 cups of fresh basil
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
1 clove garlic
Grill pears on barbecue until nicely charred and almost cooked through. Set aside and let cool down. Place basil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts, olive oil, parmesan, lemon juice, and garlic in a blender. Pulse until it becomes a coarse paste; you don’t want it too smooth. Cut up pears into large chunks, toss with pesto and the remaining 1/4 cup pine nuts. Serve warm.
2. Honey Crisp Apple and Gorgonzola Dip
I’ve heard this dip referred to as “crack” and “cocaine” on more than one occasion. Caramelizing the apples until they are almost burnt is key!
5 Honey crisp apples, cored and diced small
1/2 cup hard apple cider (the real stuff, not the sweet soda-pop version)
1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese
2 onions, diced small
1/2 cup olive oil (if you have pork fat available to you, use it instead)
3 sprigs rosemary, chopped small
5 cloves garlic, minced
Salt to taste
Heat large pan on medium heat with oil. Add onions, apples, garlic, salt and rosemary; cook until they are extremely dark in color. Once it starts to stick badly to the bottom, add cider. Let liquid reduce by half. Add Gorgonzola cheese and stir until it is completely melted. If the dip looks too thick, add some more cider (I know, cider doesn’t come in 250 ml sizes). You can top it with additional Gorgonzola, fried rosemary or even toasted nuts, for serving.
3. Braised Pork Chops with Allspice and Orange
2 large rib chops, bone in, fat cap on
2 oranges, halved
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp salt
3 Tbsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp allspice
1L chicken stock
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 300ºF. Season pork chops with salt, pepper and allspice. Heat a medium-sized ovenproof pan on high heat, sear pork chops on one side and then remove. Add oranges to pan face down and sear them as well. Add onions and garlic. Once they start to stick, add apple cider vinegar and scrape bottom of pan. Add pork chops to pan with chicken stock, cover and let cook for 2 hours, depending on the size of your chops. You can start checking after one hour. You don’t want pulled pork texture, but still very tender. Once finished, remove chops from pan and allow to rest. Strain liquid and discard onions and oranges. Reduce liquid in pot to make a nice gravy for the chops!
4. Coconut Curry With Lamb and Pineapple
The pineapple acts as a sweet balance up against the rich coconut milk while also helping tenderize the lamb. Bromelain, an enzyme in pineapple, is known to aid in the breakdown of tough proteins.
2 lb lamb shoulder, cut in 2-inch chunks
2 onions, rough chopped
2 carrots, rough chopped
1/2 butternut squash, deseeded and rough chopped
5 cloves garlic
1/2 pineapple, rough chopped
2 cups coconut milk
1L lamb stock (beef stock or even chicken stock can work)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp garam masala (a spice blend available in Indian grocery stores, or the Indian food section)
1 Tbsp cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
Fresh coriander (aka cilantro)
Season lamb with salt and pepper and sear in large pot. Remove lamb from pot and add carrots, onions, squash, garlic and pineapple. Sweat vegetables until they begin to stick, then add tomato paste and scrape the bottom of pan. Add garam masala, cinnamon, lamb, coconut milk, stock and bay leaves to pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat, cover and let simmer for two hours. Serve with rice or any variety or pulse, and fresh coriander (cilantro).
5. Loaded Sweet Potato with Grilled Apricots
This one toes the line between savory and sweet. This sweet potato alongside that braised pork chop (recipe 3) is a devilish combo!
2 large sweet potatoes
6 apricots, halved
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
5 sage leaves, fried
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ricotta (the firm stuff)
1 tsp cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 400ºF. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup maple syrup over sweet potatoes; season with salt, pepper and cinnamon. Roast sweet potatoes wrapped in foil until cooked through, approximately 40 minutes depending on the size. For apricots, brush with olive oil and grill on a preheated barbecue, just enough to get grill marks on them; be careful, they will turn mushy quickly. Once sweet potatoes are done, slice length wise down the middle and open them up. Fill with apricots, garlic, onion, ricotta, 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/4 cup olive oil. Put back in oven until ricotta has begun to caramelize. Top with walnuts and sage.