Vacation season may be over, but that doesn’t mean you have to go into hibernation right away. Take advantage of the warm weather at home to create your own tropical retreat. There’s no packing required; just grab a cutting board and some pineapple, and you’re well on your way.
What’s so special about this particular fruit? Known for their sweet taste, spiky appearance, and air of exotic luxury, pineapples are native to South America. They were historically rare and difficult to transport, selling for up to $8000 in the 18th century, and were coveted by hostesses in Europe and the colonies as a symbol of hospitality and high status. Now, you can find pineapples year-round at your local grocery store, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious! You can easily get a taste of the tropics with a variety of pineapple dishes, from drinks to desserts.
Yes, that said desserts, but here’s some good news: you don’t have to feel too guilty about indulging in this culinary staycation. Pineapples are an excellent source of manganese—important for nerve function and forming bones, among other things—and vitamin C. They also contain an enzyme that helps relieve indigestion! So if you’re concerned with eating healthy, and you’ve ever wondered, is pineapple good for you? Well, now you know the answer.
Oh, but don’t go overboard with the fresh-cut chunks, as tasty as they are. Those pineapple enzymes can also make your mouth start to burn if you eat too much of it, and they can affect the consistency of certain dishes. Make sure to pay attention to what each recipe requires—fresh pineapple might have a better flavor, but the enzymes will stay active unless it’s canned or cooked.
Now, let’s get shopping! When you’re choosing a pineapple, look for one that’s large and plump, slightly soft to the touch, with fresh green leaves and a rich fragrance. Avoid fruits with patches of skin that are soft or dark, and plan to eat your chosen pineapple without delay. Tightly wrapped, it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, but since this fruit doesn’t ripen after it’s picked, your pineapple dishes can be prepared immediately.
- We’ll start off with something simple: it doesn’t take much to make a Pineapple and Avocado Salad. This Cuban side dish is light and refreshing, and goes well with chicken and pork.
- For something a little heartier, grill up some Asian-style Pineapple Marinated Flank Steak from Omnivore’s Cookbook. Pineapple juice is used to tenderize the meat, so it tastes delicious even if you’re heating up leftovers the next day.
- If you like spice, you can bring a little kick to the table with Thai Prawn, Squash, and Pineapple Curry. The recipe also includes instructions for making your own green curry paste, which you can keep in the freezer for months.
- When it’s time for dessert, you have quite a few options, but the flavors of pineapple, coconut, and pecan put these decadent Hawaiian Cheesecake Bites from Jo Cooks at the top of the list.
- We’ve all heard of the classic American pineapple cake, but how about the Portuguese variant? Salt & Wind’s Azores Almond Polenta Pineapple Cake, or Bolo de Ananás, has a great texture and isn’t too sweet
- Thirsty? Mix up some DIY Tepache with this recipe from Imbibe Magazine. Made of fermented pineapple rinds, this Mexican street drink takes a few days of prep, but has a unique taste you won’t want to miss.
- Or, if you’re feeling a little fancy, treat yourself to one of these 9 Best Pineapple Cocktails from Food & Wine. That’s not including the piña colada, by the way—it’s a vacation, so why not try something new?
And to serve these delicious pineapple dishes, try our Batik collection in black, blue, and mint. These plates are inspired by Indonesian textiles, so you can bring the island aesthetic to your table, anytime.