Ask Chef Hosch and Ann

Light summer grilling

PHOTO PROVIDED Shown are grilled peaches. Grilling causes the natural sugars in fruit to caramelize, which creates an interesting smoky flavor.

Let’s face it, when it gets hot and sticky in the summer heat, we tend to eat less or simply go for a salad, readymade snacks or fresh fruit. Though these seem to ease the hunger, they not always are the healthiest ways to avoid cooking when it’s too hot to turn on the oven or stove.

There are plenty of easy and healthy options for the grill that also steer you away from the ever popular hot dog or burger. Grilling is a nice way to keep the heat outside and prepare a fresh, easy and healthy meal for everyone.

Personally, I love fresh fruit in the summer and an easy way to add some flavor and a new twist to your meals is to grill your favorite fruits and pair them with a light fish, chicken or salad.

The best part is, they all can be prepared together outside in the sun and fresh air, which is what summer is all about.

I’m going to give you a few easy recipes that can make summer meals fun and easy and can even be taken on the family camping trip and cooked over an open fire grate.

Grilling causes the natural sugars in fruit to caramelize, which creates an interesting smoky flavor. Throwing fruits on the grill enhances those natural flavors and makes them so delicious you seem to forget that you are eating healthy with these low calorie and vitamin-filled treats.

Peaches are my all-time favorite fruit to grill and can be paired with such a variety of other items that I hope it soon becomes your favorite too.

The first thing to remember when you are grilling most all items and especially fruits is to brush them with oil. If you can, use olive oil for a better flavor and heart healthy addition. The oil will keep them from sticking and making a mess of your grill. I also love to use the aged balsamic vinegars we carry at the shop because they are delicious and healthy and they add and interesting flavor profile to fruits.

Peaches, plums and even apricots are the perfect grill companions. They are more delicate so you want to leave the skin on and just split them to remove the pit. There are few better summer desserts than grilled peaches with ice cream but they also go great with pork tenderloin, chicken and fish. You also can mix them together with other ingredients to make a fruit salsa.

Watermelon also is a popular fruit to grill with us and few people think to throw this favorite on the grill at all. Watermelon does have a high water content so you have to be careful it doesn’t spit at you while it’s cooking. This fruit also goes great with a variety of items but my favorite is to drizzle it with aged balsamic and lay it on a salad of arugula or mixed greens with feta cheese for a delicious light lunch.

Berries such as strawberries, blackberries or blueberries can be a delicious treat from the grill too. Because they are small and very delicate you should skewer berries and you can mix them with shrimp, scallops, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil to make a portable meal. The smoky sweetness of the berries fresh off the grill is a taste you have to try.

Coconut is one of those fruits that seem like too much work to be worth it, but you will love every bite when you grill that tender coconut meat. Once you learn how to crack this fruit, you will have one of the most unique, but easy, desserts you have ever grilled. Grill this white side down until the flesh turns golden brown and when it’s ready, scrape the flesh away from the shell with a knife and dip it in dark chocolate for a luscious finish to any meal.

Any fruit is delicious when grilled so just use your imagination, get creative and enjoy some easy summer cooking!

Hunter is Chef Hosch and Ann’s sous chef. She received a degree in culinary arts from Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in 2002. After working in the field for several years, she went back to school at The Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 2005 with a degree in baking and pastry arts. She has worked in several different kitchens on both sides of culinary and baking.