We've all had those disappointing fruit moments. You go to the grocery store, excited to pick out some new produce. Hey, there's a sale on blueberries! And look! I haven't seen apricots for months! You take them home, wash them, and ... you are reminded that apricots don't really come into season until mid-summer. And it's April.
But life gives us these wonderful opportunities so we can bake more often. At least that's what I like to think. Here is what I did with my disappointing, sour, somewhat off-texture fruit. The whole process took me about 5 minutes.
Step one: chuck fruit in a pan. More specifically, wash and slice it, and spread on the bottom of an 8 by 8 pan. I used a disappointing apple, 2 disappointing apricots, and a pint of weird blueberries. Stay with me now, people. It gets better. I sprinkled the fruit with a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar:
In a bowl, I mixed up 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/4 c. whole wheat flour, 1/4 c. quick oats, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.
I took 1/3 c. of Earth Balance spread (you can use butter, but we have this stuff in our house and it's a great dairy free alternative). I used a fork to cut the butter (y spread) into the dry ingredients, leaving some larger lumps:
I sprinkled the topping over the fruit, and I baked it at 350 for 25 minutes.
Behold! The fruit is now delicious! Not disappointing at all! I don't know what you like, but I thought it needed a little scoop of caramel ice cream on top:
But seriously, the baking process really drew out all the wonderful fruit flavors. The blueberries were juicy and sweet, the apricot tasted apricot-y, and the apple was tender and delicious. Try this with any combination of fruit that you like!
It's spring, and I have come back to life. The earth is warming, birds are chirping and ... suddenly salad tastes good again. This salad is a variation on another lentil salad I have made for years. I tweaked the seasonings to make it taste something like the filling for dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). Let me tell you, this salad hit the spot. This salad made my palate sing. It brought me back to life. Ok, ok, just make it, already.
The cast of characters:
In a bowl, mix 1 c. sliced radishes, 1/2 c. chopped carrots, 1/2 c. chopped green apple, and 1/4 c. chopped fresh mint. I would have added parsley, but I didn't have any. If you have some, add that stuff in there! And once your mint patch gets going this summer, add a whole heck of a lot more mint if you like!
On the stove, get going:
These are green lentils. I cooked 1 cup of them, in about 2 quarts of water. To the water, I added a bullion cube just for extra flavor. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and let simmer for 25-30 minutes. You want them to be soft, but not turn into mush. I also cooked up some rice. I used 3/4 c. of white rice and 1 1/4 c. water, with a pinch of salt. You could easily substitute brown rice here, if that floats your boat.
When the lentils are done cooking, just pour them through a strainer to strain off the liquid. I rinsed mine off with cold water to cool them off and stop the cooking process. To cool off my rice quickly, I spread it out on a cookie sheet for several minutes.
Then, I mixed up my original lemon-olive oil dressing:
This is: 4 T. olive oil, 3 T. fresh lemon juice, the grated zest of one lemon, 1/2 t. herbs de provence seasoning, 1 t. brown mustard, 2 t. honey, and 1 t. salt. Whisk that all together. Then, you just stir the grains and the dressing into the veggies! You can check the taste and see if it needs more salt.
And voila ... instant spring in a salad. I served mine cold with a whole wheat tortilla. It has complete protein, veggies, and the lemon zest makes it taste so bright and cheerful. It is also great the next day for lunch. It made me so happy to eat this.
Enjoy in good health, and happy spring!
I'm a school librarian, cookbook author, and longtime fan of food and literature. Welcome to my blog!