When you are grilling on a warm summer night, one of the easiest dessert options is to throw some fruit on the grill. Grilling fruit intensifies its sweetness, just as roasting it in the oven can, as some of the water starts to cook out of the fruit and those natural sugars begin to caramelize. Grilling can add some additional flavor that an oven can’t, such as a hint of char from a hot grate or smokiness from wood chips you might have used to add depth to meat.
Grilling fruit is not difficult. All you need is a hot grill (a hot grill pan works just as well if you want to work indoors) and some fruit. Any kind of fruit can be put on the grill, but some will give you better results than others. I like sturdier fruits, such as pineapple (pictured below) and stone fruits including peaches and nectarines, all of which hold up very well to the hot grill for a few minutes. Melons can also be cut into thick slices and tossed on the grill. More delicate fruits, such as strawberries, can be grilled, although it is easiest to slide them onto skewers before grilling because it makes them easier to manipulate on the grill and you reduce the risk of them becoming too soft to handle. Choose fruit that is ripe, yet firm.
To prepare fruit for grilling, simply wash it as if you were going to eat it. The tough outer skin of a pineapple or mango should be removed, but the skins of stone fruits can be left on or take off, since they are edible. Fruit is delicate, so is a good idea to either brush some oil directly onto your fruit or add it generously to the top of your grill to prevent sticking. As with cooking meat, don’t turn the fruit too much while you’re cooking so that you get nice, clear grill marks on your fruit.
Fruit should be grilled until it is tender. The cooking time will vary depending on the size and ripeness of your fruit. A pineapple spear, for instance, will probably need only a few minutes on the grill but is sturdy enough to handle a very hot grill. A just-ripe peach half will need about 5-8 minutes at medium heat. More delicate fruits, like melon slices, will need to be watched carefully and will need a shorter grilling time.
The fruit can be served hot off the grill or cooled slightly to room temperature if you are planning to grill in advance. The fruit doesn’t need any accompaniment to taste delicious and can be served as-is. My favorite way to serve grilled fruit – and this is just about every grilled fruit – is with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, which melts against the hot fruit and provides a cool, mellow contrast for the bright sweetness of the fruit.