Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pineapple Month! Sweet, Savory and Strange

Here, "Quick Lunch" means chicken salad.
I’m declaring April Pineapple Month at the Time Capsule, to honor both Spring Break and a treasure trove of pineapple recipes from an unspecified 1980s newspaper. No printed date, but the reverse side features an Albertson’s grocery ad and prices that make my head spin: A half-gallon of ice cream for 89 cents!

I consider myself somewhat of a pineapple connoisseur, having visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation on Oahu and ridden a little tram designed to look like a steam train through a pineapple field. Did you know pineapple is a seasonless crop? Not only that, but one plant produces continuous growth cycles and harvesting opportunities, so it keeps on giving year round. Also, my favorite treat at Disneyland is the Pineapple Whip … presented by (who else?) Dole. Oh the many times I have tried to recreate the creamy, delicious Pineapple Whip to no avail.

A toast to the versatile pineapple!
But I digress.

First up, the unimaginatively titled “Quick Lunch.” I love these kinds of titles. You have absolutely no idea what you’re getting. Imagine hosting a friend for a meal. “What are we having?” Friend asks. “Oh, Quick Lunch,” you breezily reply. Could be tripe. Could be Chef’s Salad. In this case, Quick Lunch refers to a tropical twist on chicken salad, and it is quick, provided you stop by the deli for a rotisserie chicken breast, or have some leftovers in your fridge. The pineapple adds a sweet juiciness, and allowed me to cut down on the Thousand Island dressing. After all, I love the Islands but I also want to fit into my bikini.

Next up, another ambiguous title: Spicy Pick-Up. Again, without context clues, you may not be sure if that’s a recipe or a dating tactic. Fortunately, it’s a refreshing drink that gives you the option of serving hot or cold. Hot, it’s a dead-ringer for spiced apple cider. Cold, it could be served in your punch bowl. Such a versatile fruit, the pineapple!

Bleh. This is the "strange" I refer to in the title.
By recipe number three, I was truly aggravated with the Pineapple Federation of America (or whomever) because these recipe titles do nothing to further their cause. Take Parmesan Chunks. Who do you work for, pineapple marketer? Not the cheese people, honey, the pineapple people! That’s what this is, too: Pineapple, margarine (yay, margarine!) and Parmesan cheese broiled until brown and served as a side dish. But avoid this one. They browned up nicely, but the combination of pineapple and Parmesan is not winning.

Yummy as a side dish or dessert!
Fortunately, by the fourth recipe, the Pineapple People seemed to have gotten with the recipe-naming program. Honey Spiced Pineapple is pineapple lucky enough to be doused in a sweet and sour concoction of honey, wine vinegar, cinnamon and cloves, and if that sounds more appetizing than pineapple covered in parm, it is. Though the recipe suggests this as a side dish, too, I must say it is delightful over vanilla ice cream. Said ice cream may not be 89 cents
anymore, but Honey Spiced Pineapple has stood the test of time.


Quick Lunch
Toss 1/4 chopped pineapple with alfalfa sprouts, chopped sweet red onion and 1/2 cup cooked shredded chicken. Moisten with Thousand Island dressing and pile into Pita bread.

Spicy Pick-Up
Simmer juice from pineapple -- canned or fresh -- with whole cinnamon and cloves, a little honey and lemon juice. Strain and drink hot. Or pour over ice cubes and add ginger ale for a cool drink.

Parmesan Chunks
Chop 1/2 pineapple into chunks, toss with a little melted margarine and grated Parmesan cheese. Broil until tinged brown. Serve with any meat or fish dish.

Honey Spiced Pineapple
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup wine vinegar
2 sticks cinnamon
4 whole cloves
1/2 pineapple, cut into slices
Heat first four ingredients to boiling. Pour over pineapple slices. Cool, then refrigerate. Serve with ham or poultry.