I can fall in love with fresh plums just sitting in the market, a big pile of beautiful dark red globes. But perhaps my favorite thing is slicing them open, exposing their deep red flesh. Plums are everywhere right now, and I celebrate by using them in everything; they're delicious and good for you. I prefer red plums -- mainly for their color -- but many different colors and types of plums are available. Here are three of my favorite recipes to use fresh plums -- in appetizers, mains and desserts.
Appetizer - Roasted Plum Salad with Goat Cheese
This delicious salad plays off the natural pairing of sweet fruit with goat cheese. The juice from the roasted plums makes for a pretty pink dressing, so I like to serve it on the side, where guests can see its color!
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Pour the teaspoon of olive oil into a glass baking dish. Cut the plums in half and remove the pits. Place them first cut side down in the baking dish, to allow some of the oil to rub off on the cut sides, then cut side up.
Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until they are slightly caramelized and have released some of their juices. Remove the plums to a plate and set aside.
Pour the lemon juice into the baking dish and whisk with a fork until combined with the juice. Add the olive oil and salt. Pour the finished dressing into a serving receptacle.
To serve, place equal portions of lettuce and goat cheese on each plate. Garnish with two plums and top with dressing. Serve immediately.
Note: Plums and dressing can also be prepared the night before and kept in the fridge.
Bonus Recipe: Brie with Roasted Cinnamon Plums
Main - Roast Chicken with Plums
Roast chicken is an easy recipe to have on-hand; add plums to make it special and different.
1 whole fryer (4-5 pounds)
1 tablespoon salt
4 fresh plums
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Prepare a roasting pan with a rack. Wash and dry the chicken, and cover the skin with salt. (If you can, this step should be completed an hour or two before roasting. The chicken is then kept in the fridge, uncovered, to dry out the skin and make it crispy.)
Roast the chicken for 1 hour. Working quickly, remove the juices that have collected at the bottom of the pan, which can be saved to make gravy. Cut the plums in half, and place them, cut side up, under the rack. Continue roasting for another 20-30 minutes, until the juices of the chicken run clean when you cut between the thigh and breast.
Bonus Recipe: Our own Basil, Grape and Plum Goat Cheese Pizza.
Dessert - Plum Crumble
Crumbles are classic desserts, and in my opinion, no fruit works better than stone fruit! This recipe is delicious with plums, but don't be afraid to add peaches, cherries or even berries. Make it your own!
6 fresh plums
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup quick cooking or instant oats
1 pinch nutmeg
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) butter, plus a small amount for greasing the baking dish
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a baking dish. Slice the plums in eigths and place them in the bottom of the baking dish.
In a medium bowl, combine the sugars, flour, salt, oats and nutmeg. Dice the butter and add to the mix, combining with your fingers until you have a sandy consistency. Spread evenly over the plums. Sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top of the crumble is browned, and the juices begin to bubble up the sides. Serve with vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.
Bonus Recipe: Ina Garten's Plum Tart
Image: Eli Duke