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In our new weekly series On the Grill, our Sunday Dinners columnist Tom Hirschfeld shows us how to grill everything from steaks to salads with confidence (and style).
Today: How to grill all your favorite fruits, and a recipe for Grilled Bananas with Buttered Maple Sauce and English Almond Toffee.
I quit eating bananas years ago because I would buy them and not eat them. They would sit in the fruit bowl idling away, eventually passing through the different stages of ripeness. I would watch, like a gambler calling another's bluff, knowing that I had until they turned black to do something with them. It was then that I would convince myself I needed to make banana bread. I even froze them for future use and had a stack of them in the freezer, until one day they fell out onto my wife's toe and broke it.
As a kid I always liked bananas, but I was particular about the stage of the peel. Did it have a green tip or had it developed black spots? I liked my bananas smack in the middle, which is exactly where I still like them. Now I have a kid who adores bananas: she'll eat two or three a day and she doesn't care which stage they're in. She welcomes all bananas within her grasp.
If I didn't have Lynnie, who loves bananas, I might not have ever rediscovered my own fondness for the fruit. I've been eating them plain, slathered with almond butter, or sauteed with other tropical fruits and served as a salsa on top of a slab of mahi mahi. And to add fuel to the fire, I'll just say it: bananas are great on the grill.
I am convinced any fruit can be grilled but some fruits are easier then others. I like the usual suspects: peaches and other stone fruits; hard fruits like apples and pears; and even pineapples, either sliced or whole. (If you want something really special, slow roast a whole peeled pineapple.) I always look for fruit that is still firm but ripe. Soft, over-ripe fruit is pointless to grill.
Keep it clean.
I make sure the grate is clean of lingering aromatics, like garlic. Your grill grate with leftover steak, garlic and ginger stuck to it is really best for flavoring the grilled tofu salad you plan on making for tomorrow.
Play with fire, carefully.
I use direct high heat, and I always butter the fruit lightly to prevent sticking, not the grate. Be aware and ready for flare-ups.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
8 firm bananas, still in the peel, not green but not brown either
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup your favorite English toffee bar, crumbled
Photos by Tom Hirschfeld