High heat intensifies the rich flavor of this tropical fruit
Fresh pineapple makes any event seem festive. But what a letdown if the pineapple is less than ripe — as are so many you find in the supermarket. It tastes OK, but lacks the full, rich flavor of truly ripe fruit.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to remedy unripeness: Just grill the pineapple. High heat evaporates water while caramelizing sugars, turning an already good-tasting fruit into a flavor sensation.
No grill? No worries. You can get good results using your oven broiler or even a stovetop grilling pan.
Grilled pineapple is great served by itself, or dressed up with other ingredients (sweet or savory, as you wish). So it works as appetizer or dessert. Perfect.
Recipe: Grilled Pineapple
This recipe is seriously simple: Just trim, core, and peel some pineapple, and cut it into pieces of whatever shape you desire. Then brush the pieces lightly with olive oil, slap them on the grill for a few minutes, and you’re done.
But how do you go about cutting up that pineapple? Here’s my favorite approach: First cut off the top, plus about ½ inch from the bottom. Then cut the pineapple in half lengthwise, and cut each half into halves again (so you have 4 triangular wedges). With a thin knife, remove the core at the apex of triangle. Then with a long thin knife, start at one edge of a wedge and carefully cut as close to the skin as possible to remove a nice wedge of pineapple. Discard the prickly shell of pineapple skin, and repeat with the other 3 wedges.
You can either grill these large wedges or cut them lengthwise another time or three to create smaller, thinner pieces (so one pineapple will yield anywhere from 4 to 16 wedges, depending on what size you slice them). See Notes for an alternate way of cutting up pineapple.
I usually grill pineapple with just a light coating of olive oil, and sometimes finish it with a bit of honey. But in the Notes I discuss other ways you might want to flavor the pineapple wedges.
It takes about 10 minutes to prep the pineapple, and another 10 or 15 minutes to grill it (less if your pieces are quite thin).
I generally figure that one pineapple serves 6 people as a dessert, 10 or more as an appetizer. But your mileage may vary.
Leftovers will keep for a few days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- 1 pineapple
- 2 - 3 teaspoons olive oil (as little as you can get away with; I generally use extra-virgin olive oil)
- ~¼ cup honey (very optional)
- chopped mint for garnish (optional, but attractive and tasty)
- Prepare the grill. You want medium heat for this dish. If using charcoal, you’ll need a single layer of coals. If using a gas grill, preheat it to medium. In either case, make sure the grill is absolutely clean! See Notes for more about this, and about lubricating the grill grate.
- Cut up the pineapple as directed in the recipe headnote (or use another method if you prefer). When the grill is ready, brush each piece of pineapple on all sides with a thin coating of olive oil.
- Grill each side of pineapple for 5 minutes or so until charred lightly (or heavily, if that’s your preference). Don’t overcook — the pineapple can get too soft.
- Remove pineapple from the grill and brush each slice with the honey, if using. Leave the wedges as they are, or cut them into smaller pieces.
- Garnish with chopped mint, if desired, and serve.
- Pineapple doesn’t ripen after it’s picked. So when you buy it, pineapple is as sweet as it will ever be. “Aging” it doesn’t help, although with age the fruit will lose some of its acid.
- A fully ripe pineapple can be green or brown — color doesn’t matter. But aroma does. It should smell like, well, pineapple. If it doesn’t, the fruit is probably not quite ripe. (But that’s why we’re grilling it, no?)
- BTW, the best time to buy pineapples in the US is from April through June — that’s their peak season. But they’re flavorful throughout the whole year.
- Want an alternative way to cut up pineapple? Try this one: Cut off the crown and remove a slice from the bottom, then set the pineapple upright on a work surface. With a long thin knife, slice off the skin, making sure to remove all the “eyes.” Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise, then in half lengthwise again, and remove the core. You’ll have 4 triangular wedges, which you can cut into smaller pieces if you wish.
- When you grill pineapple, it’s important to have a scrupulously clean grill grate. Otherwise, you risk discoloring the pineapple wedges with grit from the grill. So brush your grate thoroughly!
- It’s a good idea to lubricate the grill grate before using it so that the pineapple doesn’t stick. If the grate is not yet in place over the grill flame, you can use an aerosol kitchen spray. But never spray a grate that’s over fire — you might ignite the aerosol. As an alternative to spraying, you can brush the grate with a thin coating of oil.
- If you don’t have a grill, you can just run the pineapple wedges under the oven broiler, turning them several times (you won’t get nice grill marks this way, however). Or if you have a grill pan with raised ridges, you can use that (although I think the broiler method is easier).
- Some cooks like to marinate pineapple wedges for an hour or so before grilling them. To make a tasty marinade, combine about a tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of 2 limes, and a couple teaspoons of lime zest. You can also add a tablespoon or two of honey if you want (though it may char a bit when grilling). Some pinches of cayenne or black pepper are also nice. Place the pineapple wedges in a bowl or a plastic bag and add the marinade, making sure all the wedges are coated with the mixture. Let sit for an hour, then grill.
- You can substitute orange juice for lime in the marinade. A pinch or so of ground cloves adds extra flavor. A teaspoon or so of cinnamon is also a nice addition.
- You may want to drizzle some dark rum over the grilled pineapple slices before serving to add an extra flavor note.
- Alternatively, you can drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Use the balsamic straight from the bottle, or reduce it to half volume on the stovetop.
- The serving suggestions mentioned above are appropriate whether you’re treating grilled pineapple as an appetizer or as a dessert. But if you’re looking specifically for a dessert approach, here’s one: Mix ½ cup honey with ¼ cup (or a bit more) of lime juice. Add 3 or 4 teaspoons of grated lime zest. Add a teaspoon or two of orange-flower water (start with less — it has a distinctive flavor, and a little goes a long way). Use this mixture to marinate the pineapple, then pour whatever is left over the pineapple wedges when serving. A fragrant mint garnish adds a pleasant touch. And if you want to zip up the dish, add some cayenne pepper to the marinade — sweet and hot work beautifully together, IMO.
- Blogging Note: At long last, Kitchen Riffs has a Recipe Index. Thanks to Mrs. Kitchen Riffs for putting it together. I’ve also moved the blogroll to its own page (called Links). This has allowed me to update and greatly expand it. You can access these new features from tabs at the top of each web page.
Delicious & Nutritious
“Love this!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, scooping up another wedge of grilled pineapple. “What a great appetizer!”
“And it makes a nice addition to a pupu platter,” I said. “Perfect for Tiki Month here on Kitchen Riffs.”
“It’s certainly much healthier than some of the other platter choices,” said Mrs K R. “Like Crab Rangoon. Or that wicked — but wonderful! — Candied Bacon. That’s my favorite.”
“Yeah, the Shrimp Toast Dip isn’t too bad health-wise, but this Grilled Pineapple is even more virtuous,” I said between nibbles. “So, do you think it works better as appetizer or dessert?”
“Hmm, it’s dandy either way,” said Mrs K R. “Too hard to decide.”
“Well, we can’t eat all of this as an appetizer today — why not have it as dessert tomorrow?”
“Sure,” said Mrs K R. “And of course make some more Candied Bacon while you’re at it.”
“Because . . .?” I asked.
“Because we don’t want to eat dessert all by itself,” she said. “Haven’t you ever heard of a balanced diet?”
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