by The Culinistas
If you’re like us, you stocked up on pantry staples like dried fruit, nuts, and beans when quarantine was in its infancy. Now, you have a bag of golden raisins eyeing you from the cabinet corner, waiting to be turned into something delicious. While dried fruits are an excellent snack on their own, we use them in our protein, grains, and salad dishes for sweetness, tartness, and depth of flavor. Below are a few ideas to spark your creativity in the kitchen.
1. Sauces and Dressings
Let’s talk pectin. It’s an acidic carbohydrate found in the cell walls of many fruits, it’s purpose is structure and it’s why jams and jellies have the consistency they do. Pectin is often times extracted from fruits and used as a thickening agent in dessert fillings, candies, and of course preserves. All this to say, using dried fruit in sauces and dressings can lead to a great consistency. You’ll want to soak your fruit in water first to release the natural pectin and make blending easier. Our Broccoli & Kale Salad uses golden raisins, lemon, spices, and EVOO to create a sweet accompaniment to the salads hearty veg. We also create a tangy, spicy, onion date sauce to top seared steak. Charred onion, tomato paste, soy sauce, dates, and some of the water used to soak the dates get blended together with spices and EVOO. Whip out your blender, you may surprise yourself!
2. Mix Into Salads and Grains
Dried fruits keep your grains, salads, and hearty veg balanced. One of our favorite uses for dried apricots is in Cashew Cauliflower Rice. Chopped apricots join riced cauliflower, harissa, spinach, cashews and chives for a Middle Eastern inspired play on jeweled rice. We also use dried currants, in balsamic glazed green beans and raisins in crunchy cabbage slaw.
3. Breakfast Time
Dried cranberries, raisins, tart cherries, and goji berries are all perfect additions to chia seed pudding or overnight oats. Prep up a big batch to get you through the week, and garnish with your fruits of choice, seeds, nuts, and a drizzle of honey or agave if you like things extra sweet for a breakfast that will keep you full all day. Plus, if you’re still in your isolation baking phase, dried fruits are delicious when baked into scones and quickbreads.