My very first memory of moving to Hawaii was landing at the Honolulu airport, departing the plane outside and being greeted with handmade leis of Pikake and Plumeria flowers. We then headed for Waikiki where we would stay until our house was ready. On the way, enjoying the sites, windows down, island breeze in our car, I soon became dizzied by this fragrant waft of what seemed to be warm, sweet pineapple upside down cake…we were privy to the downstream bliss of the Dole pineapple plant! Unforgettable!
I still love the aroma of pineapple and I love how versatile it is in the kitchen. It’s perfect on its own and equally delicious added to salads, marinades, salsas and desserts. Remember that enzymes are destroyed by cooking and canning, so whenever possible, go for the fresh. If cooking with pineapple, use a little raw as well. Good example? Bake up a batch of pineapple muffins and serve with a dollop of yogurt and some chopped fresh pineapple.
Pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese and also provides dietary fiber. Bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein, is found mainly in the stem of the pineapple, but there’s enough in the fruit to help make pineapple a great addition to marinades as a tenderizer.
Here are some of my favorite, tasty ways to enjoy fresh pineapple:
Pineapple is perfect in salsa with red onion, jalapenos and cilantro. Great served over grilled salmon, pork chops, baked ham, or grilled tempeh or tofu. And really good with tortilla chips! Try this Fresh Pineapple Salsa.
Make a delicious sandwich with smoked turkey, a slice of cheese and a ring of fresh pineapple.
Great mixed with cream cheese or sour cream and spread over muffins, crackers or toast. Try this Pineapple Breakfast Sandwich.
Add it to your favorite marinate in place of, or in addition to, vinegar.
Mix it up with mint and cucumbers. Here’s a great Sweet and Tangy Pineapple Cucumber Salad.
Make rice or quinoa pilaf; stir in diced fresh pineapple and minced chives or scallions, like in this Pineapple Ginger Rice with Edamame.
Place fresh pineapple chunks on wooden skewers. Baste with teriyaki marinade and grill alongside fish, meat or black bean veggie burgers. Here’s a simple idea for Grilled Pineapple and Scallops Teriyaki.
Love good chutney? This Pineapple Ginger Chutney with Macadamia Nut is outstanding.
Make a pineapple smoothie with fresh-frozen or fresh chopped pineapple. Great when made with coconut milk!
Add chopped pineapple to tacos. Here’s a recipe for Quick and Easy Pork and Pineapple Tacos and one for Shrimp Tacos with Fresh Pineapple Salsa.
Enjoy a bowl of fresh pineapple sprinkled with grated unsweetened coconut.
Add chopped pineapple to chicken, shrimp or tuna salad. Here’s a spectacular idea for Fresh Tuna Salad with Pineapple.
Dip fresh pineapple chunks in melted dark chocolate!
Make a tropical fruit salad with pineapple, papaya, bananas and coconut.
Stir fresh pineapple into yogurt or sour cream; serve with sweet potatoes or fresh baked muffins or quick bread.
Chilled pineapple soup, anyone? Here’s a cooling recipe for Pineapple Cucumber Gazpacho.
Make punch from pineapple juice, a squeeze of lime juice, some sparkling water and floating pineapple rings.
Remember that pineapples are very perishable. Keep the whole, uncut pineapple on your kitchen counter for no more than a couple of days. Once cut, store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze cut pineapple in juice for up to six months.
Got a favorite way to eat pineapples? I’d love to hear!