Fruit is a muse to artists and chefs alike. It makes pretty subject matter in painted still lifes and adds dynamic flavor to delicious dishes. However, brimming with nutrients and freshness, fruit is much better experienced in a dish rather than studied through layers of paint. From grilling to pureeing, slicing to juicing, the ways to creatively prepare fruit are endless. Its unique flavor can infuse, enhance or counter other tastes on the plate. Be it the subject for an artist’s painting or the stimulus for a chef’s recipe, fruit as inspiration is plentiful. With that in mind, we cherry-picked the best dishes from around town that channel fruit in their cooking masterpieces.
3 Squares Restaurant
Summertime heat isn’t a bad problem to have. But let’s be honest: Finding ways to cool down in July can be a luxury to savor. The mango mojito by 3 Squares may provide a refreshing answer. “It’s so perfect for a summer day,” says general manager Heather Johnson, who identifies the drink as one of their best sellers on the cocktail menu ($8 regular price, $6 during happy hour). Combining Cruzan mango rum, mango puree, lime juice, simple syrup, mint and club soda into a sweet mix, the mango adds as much refreshment to the beverage as it does vibrancy to the cocktail’s bright color. Served in an elegant martini glass, Johnson recommends pairing this cocktail with fish tacos or chicken wings.
Grilled Pineapple Steaks
If you think fruit cannot be grilled like a steak, think again. Just in time for BBQ season, Famous Dave’s offers grilled pineapple steaks. The pineapple is sliced a quarter of an inch thick, seasoned with cayenne and raw cane sugar, then grilled to reach a caramelized consistency. Once the sugar melts into a sweet and spicy profile, the fruit is popped off the grill, char marks and all. The transformation is complete, with a hint of sweet and a zing of spice ($2.29 for 2 slices). Their candied sweetness may be the relief you’ll need from the smokey barbeque flavors on the rest of your plate.
Patrick’s Bakery & Café
There’s a certain flavorful expectation at the thought of a fruit tart: a dynamic delight contrasting sweet with sour. Patrick’s fruit tart will not disappoint your discerning palate ($6.17 personal size, $38.62 medium, $45.06 large). A sensational treat both in flavor and in texture, this dessert begins with a crunchy pie crust filled with vanilla custard pie filling that is silky in texture. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, kiwi and apricot delicately sit atop the creamy body. Sweet are the strawberries and apricots, tart are the blackberries, raspberries and kiwi. You may even see other seasonal fruit rotated into the recipe. The mixture of fresh fruit delivers a powerful range in tart while the simple syrup glazing the dessert enhances the sweet.
Som Tum (papaya salad)
Sawatdee & Zushiya
Salads aren’t always leafy and green. The papaya salad ($8.29) from Sawatdee & Zushiya is one that eliminates the lettuce and replaces it with something else that’s green: fresh shredded papaya. As you can imagine, it’s on the fruity side but not in the way you might think. The papaya is tossed with carrots, tomatoes and peanuts, and dressed with a peanut sauce flavored with Thai seasonings. The crunch comes from the papaya and peanuts chased by sweet and sour from the dressing, but the green papaya is what holds the flavors together. Papayas are teeming with nutrients; some would go so far as to call them superfruits.
Tropical Fried Rice
Sweet Basil’s tropical twist on fried rice may leave you monitoring Hawaii-bound flight schedules. The dish (starting at $7.50) mixes rice with the usual fried rice suspects: eggs, bean sprouts, onions, carrots. But it’s the pineapple and cashew add-ins that make the recipe feel tropical; especially the pineapple with its dramatic
flair for tang. “It adds a sweetness,” says manager Joanna Clanton. The dish also incorporates fresh fruit, not canned. “If you use fresh pineapple, the natural sweetness and sourness actually comes out,” Clanton adds.
Citrus Seared Salmon
You may not think of fruit while eating fish. Roasted Pear’s citrus seared salmon ($14.99 lunch, $16.99 dinner) is a dish resonating high on fruit vibes. First, the salmon is dusted with flour, seared in a pan and baked. Then, the cooked fish is placed atop a colorful salad consisting of mixed greens, diced tomatoes, fresh strawberries, mandarin oranges, red onions, caramelized pecans and feta cheese. There’s fruit in the salad but it doesn’t stop there; the entire entree is dressed with a homemade fruit-infused dressing. This sauce is a melody of fruit juices (grapefruit, orange, pineapple, cranberry and a little lemon juice) that is mounted with butter to create the right consistency. You may be eating fish and vegetables, but your palate will be humming fruit, fruit, fruit.
Key Lime Pie
Redstone American Grill
Not all fruit is tame. The bold lime knows how to pack a puckering punch. Now, mix that sour power with something sweet and you have yourself a recipe that knows how to put on a show. The Key Lime pie ($9.50) at Redstone is a dessert that utilizes the kick of lime. And Redstone’s version of the Key West classic uses authentic, fresh-squeezed lime juice and zest. The lime pie filling sits atop a crust bed made of toasted graham cracker, walnuts and almonds. The dessert is then polished with lime juice and zest, delivering a treat that is tart yet light.
Whole Foods Market
After you retrieve your pineapple paradise ($4.75/16 oz., $5.50/24 oz.) from the Whole Foods drink bar, palm trees, white sandy beaches and rolling waves may haunt your dreams. This drink definitely feels tropical. The icy mix blends juice made from real fruit—pineapple puree, banana puree and white grape juice—with crushed ice to create a vibrant slushie. The tropical mix of fruit works in concert to deliver a bright, tangy flavor. Who knows, this drink may induce a craving to feel sand between your toes. If nothing else, its syrupy sweetness is bound to deliver a cool breeze in this Minnesota paradise.