Fruit in savoury dishes: pushing the boundaries of taste

Breakfast

Peach and apricot cereal, soya milk

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This was Sainsbury’s cheaper version of Special K. It’s definitely ideal if you like a light breakfast, but as someone who tends towards a  heartier start to the day I found that I needed at least two bowls of it. It was a nice cereal though, and the fruit pieces definitely added an extra something.

Lunch

Khobez and home made hummus, carrot batons, piece of flapjack

A had a few brown chickpeas and blackeye peas left over so decided to throw together a quick hummus last night before going to bed. I’m pleased to report that my mini lemon grater seems to have returned after an unexplained absence (possibly resulting from an annoying void at the back of the cutlery drawer). It’s certainly an essential piece of equipment for adding a zesty tang to spreads and sauces.

I just used a good handful of chickpeas/blackeye peas, the juice of half a lemon (and zest of one), about 1/2 tbsp of tahini, 1 tbsp olive oil and a small splash of water. I just mashed this together with a fork and spoon until it resembled a more conventional hummus. It only took 5 minutes or so, and it was definitely worth the effort to have a tasty, nutritious spread for lunch the next day. Khobez are a plain, but very nice, variety of Arabic bread. I find that you ideally need a couple of these for a decent lunch, since they look fairly big but are completely flat so not all that filling. I’d definitely recommend this as a creative lunch idea.

Dinner

Avocado, kiwi and pine nut couscous, watercress

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This is another example of how fruit can be a great addition to savoury dishes (and sandwiches). This is a really unusual dish that looks pretty and tastes great. Even better, I’d say it takes under 20 mins to prepare. I admit that pine nuts are incredibly pricey, but they’re definitely a worthwhile investment from time to time. For optimum results I  would make sure that the avocado and kiwi are really ripe (I think mine could have benefited from a little more time in the fruit bowl).

Ingredients for avocado, kiwi and pine nut couscous (serves 2):

– A pack of pine nuts

– 150g couscous

– Around 600 ml stock

– Zest of one lemon

– 2 ripe avocadoes

– 2 very ripe kiwi fruits

– About 1/4 large cucumber

– A small handful of fresh coriander leaves

Method:

1. Place the pine nuts in the oven on gas 6 (200 C) until they are lightly browned. This should take around 5 mins. When they are ready, remove from the oven and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, place the couscous in a bowl and add the stock and lemon zest. Cover and leave for about 10 mins, until the water is absorbed, but the couscous still looks very moist. The idea is that it stays moister than for traditional couscous dishes where it has to be fluffed with a fork before serving.

3. While the couscous cooks, peel and chop the avocado and kiwi. Chop the cucumber.

4. When the couscous is ready, stir in all the other ingredients and enjoy. I found that some watercress salad was enough with this, but had been snacking on the way home. If you wanted a heartier meal, I’d suggest serving with hummus and pitta bread or a more substantial salad e.g. watercress, beetroot and sultana salad

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Dessert

Pomegranate and yogurt dessert, a little dark chocolate

Pomegranates have to be one of  my favourite fruits, as they’re so versatile. Ottolenghi’s cookbooks make the great suggestion of adding them to aubergine, and this really does make for a winning pasta dish. They’re also great in desserts though. Today I just had a spoonful of soya yogurt that needed finishing, so added it to some pomegranate seeds (plus a drizzle of golden syrup). I foolishly stirred it together, and although it tasted great it looked decidedly odd (hence the lack of photo).

Extracting the lovely red seeds from a pomegranate is not as time consuming as you might think. I’ve heard of tapping the skin to get the seeds out, but personally I find it easier just to cut the fruit into four, then  peel the seeds away from the skin, and they tend to come off in fairly neat little clusters. Pomegranates do come with a bit of a warning though, as their bright red juice can create a serious mess in seconds. It wasn’t anything that couldn’t be tackled with some ethical and very effective Astonish spray, but there was a moment when I could see large chunks of my rent deposit going on replacing a work surface that looked like a piece of modern art.

Snacks

Carrot batons, pumpkin seeds

I hadn’t really considered pumpkin seeds as a snacking material before, but I’d run out of nuts and felt that I should make at least some effort not to resort to sugary snacks. I used some  of the seeds that I’d roasted a while ago and stored, and they made a really nice snack that was more filling than you might imagine.

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