I think adding fruit to savory dishes automatically elevates them to a level one could call "fancy."
Pork chops? Drab.
Pork chops with apples and onions? Fancy.
Baked Salmon? Bland.
Baked Salmon with Mango Chutney? Fancy.
Roasted potatoes? Boring.
Roasted potatoes with pears and rosemary? Fancy.
The thing is, adding fruit to a savory dish is not hard. It doesn't require any special culinary skill. I think it's just different, and daring in a way that might prevent the ordinary home cook from attempting it.
Home cooks, fear no more. I'm here to tell you that adding fruit to savory dishes is ridiculously easy and ridiculously tasty and--if you happen to be swayed by that kind of thing--likely going to be considered fancy by your dinner guests.
You can probably tell by now that I like roasting things. (See here, here, here and here) To me, roasting requires minimal effort. I can prep my veggies, toss them in the oven, and then tend to other things on the stove, rather than having to stir them or check on them incessantly. For that reason, I think it's an optimal way to prepare food for a dinner party. There are always going to be last minute things to check or prepare before people come over, so it's nice to have something that doesn't require constant stirring.
I had some friends over for dinner this weekend, and I did something I wouldn't normally recommend: I made a recipe for the first time. Inspired by a picture in a magazine, I decided to try the roasted potato/pear combo. I was nervous because the pair seemed a little strange, but I hoped with the addition of some rosemary from my parents' garden, it would be just strange enough to be good.
I'm happy to report it was, (by my standards anyway). The roasted pears were amazing. I had forgotten that when you cook fruit the sugars caramelize and produce a deeper, richer fruit flavor. In fact, next time I want to ditch the potatoes and just roast some pears with butter and rosemary and eat them in a big bowl with some vanilla ice cream. I'm dreaming of it now.
Make these potatoes and pears, maybe along with some tomato and feta stuffed chicken or zucchini and you'll impress yourself and your dinner guests.
Rosemary Roasted Potatoes & Pears
1 lb mixed small potatoes, quartered
2 Bartlett pears, chopped into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 sprigs fresh Rosemary*
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet (or 2 if needed) with aluminum foil.
Lay potatoes and pears in an even layer on cookie sheet.
Combine melted butter and olive oil and drizzle over potatoes and pears.
Break off the individual leaves from 2 sprigs of the rosemary and sprinkle over the pan, along with some salt and pepper.
Use your hands to mix and make sure everything is evenly coated.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring a couple times through to brown all the edges.
Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with remaining leaves from the last sprig of fresh rosemary.
* I was lucky enough to get some rosemary from my parents' garden, but I have to insist that the fresh rosemary is worth the splurge for this recipe. I know I always struggle to use up fresh herbs, but here are some tips on preserving them.
Inspired by Sunny Anderson's recipe in O Magazine.