DRAGON FRUIT ORANGE SUNFLOWER STACKS (raw-vegan)
In the past couple of weeks, I have been experimenting with new fruits and veggies. I love summertime because of the abundant produce that I have access to. When I say “experiment” I not only mean new recipes but actually trying new fruits and veggies for the first time. I have always considered myself to be adventurous when it comes to food, but am finding that there is a whole world out there I have yet to experience. I am very lucky to have a local health food store that only carries in season and organic produce, some of them are familiar and some are exotic to me. The other day while shopping amongst the sea of produce, they had these funny looking fruits called “dragon fruit” (see picture below). I was intrigued by this odd leafy fruit with bright green leaves and red outside skin. I wondered if it tasted as good as it looked. After consulting the clerk on how to pick a ripe one, I also noticed they had one cut up for sampling; I did not try it though. Instead- I picked the ripest one I could find and brought it home to try. Well, it has been in my fruit basket for a couple of days to ripen up a bit more and I decided to break into it today. The taste was very mild and slightly sweet, this alarmed me thinking I over ripened it. After a quick visit online, I discovered that it is supposed to taste this way. I also found out that it is actually called a “Pitaya” and it is the fruit of a cactus. The inside flesh and seeds are edible but the skin and leaves are not. Well now that I know the basic facts about it, what to do with it? I figured the mild taste would get lost in a smoothie and making a dressing out of it would be too generic. I tasted it again and came up with a flavor combination that seemed to highlight its delicate texture and flavor. Now it was time to apply it to a creative dish. DRAGON FRUIT ORANGE SUNFLOWER STACKS seemed to be the winning presentation and combination. This delicate salad can be served as a side salad, a lightly savory dessert and I can even see it incorporated in a multiple coarse meal as a palette cleanser. I had this for lunch today and am really pleased with the results. I am also proud of myself for continuing to try new foods and expanding my culinary horizons. Now I can say that I ate a dragon fruit…see, that wasn’t too scary! I hope you are also exploring the culinary world out there like I am. So, what new fruit or veggie are you going to try this week?
A CHEF’S TIP: to pick a ripe dragon fruit, simply look for one that has bright green leaf tips and vibrant red skin with no soft spots or blemishes. Set it out at room temperature to ripen, check it every day until ripe. One benefit of being the chef is I get to eat the fruit end trimmings when I make recipes like this, you can too :)
SERVES 4 SMALL STACKS
2 ripe organic dragon fruits, wash well
2 small ripe organic Valencia oranges
2 cups organic sunflower sprouts, wash well and spin dry
4 single trimmed sunflower sprouts for garnish, wash and spin dry
Gently peel the outer skin off of the dragon fruits to expose the inner meat. Lay the fruit on its side and cut off the ends so that the remaining fruit is uniform in thickness, eat trimmings. Gently slice each width wise into 6 even round slices and set aside. Zest one of the oranges and reserve, save the other zest for another recipe. Peel both and lay on their sides. Cut off the ends (and eat) and then cut each width wise into 6 even round slices. TO PRESENT LIKE THE PICTURE SHOWN ABOVE: On each serving plate start working from the right hand side, stack everything at a slight angle and work towards the left side of the plate. Lay down 1 orange slice and stack on top with 1 dragon fruit slice. Add 1/4 cup of the sprouts next. Repeat with 1 orange slice and stack on top with 1 dragon fruit slice. Add 1/4 cup of the sprouts next. Now stack 1 orange slice and stack on top with 1 dragon fruit slice. When you have finished constructing all four plate, even sprinkle each plate with 1/4 of the reserved orange zest. Garnish with a single trimmed sprout. ENJOY!!
WHOLE DRAGON FRUIT