The arrival of spring (in name, at least, even if the weather doesn’t always reflect it) brings with it many joys, not the least of which is the dimming of the need for red meat and a rise in the desire to eat fresh fruit. A crisp, tart Fuji apple slathered with extra-chunky peanut butter is delicious and readily available in the dining hall, but after eating them for two months straight, a person tends to develop some cholesterol issues.
Since fruit is supposed to be moderately healthy, I offer you three easy alternatives.
Since the Jewish holiday of Passover has just started, I recommend eating this on matzah. During the seder, or Passover meal, haroset is meant to represent the mortar that the Jews used as slaves in Egypt—but significantly better to eat. You’ll need a sharp knife, a bowl (clean Tupperware works well), a measuring cup, and a mixing implement. Peel six apples and chop into roughly one-inch chunks. Toss with about a teaspoon of lemon juice. Roughly chop ¾ cup of shelled walnuts and add to the apples, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon ginger. Pour in ¼ cup sweet wine—Manischewitz is traditional. Refrigerate at least four hours to let the wine soak in.
Perfect food for watching basketball on TV. I recommend making this directly in whatever container you’ll use to store it. You’ll need a sharp knife, mixing spoon and container. The avocadoes should have a little give but not be mushy when you squeeze them. Peel and mash five ripe avocadoes, stirring in one teaspoon salt, a teaspoon of lime juice, and one tablespoon finely chopped cilantro. Core and seed two small fresh jalapenos, and dice very finely. Slice two fairly ripe tomatoes into one-inch chunks. Gently combine the tomatoes and jalapenos with the avocado. Serve with good tortilla chips or eat plain.
I became addicted to plantains in Ecuador over winter break, and this is quite possibly the best way to serve them. You can find plantains in HyVee or Wal-Mart; I’ve never checked Fareway. They turn black as they ripen, and are significantly bigger than bananas. Find the darkest plantains you can, since the green plantains won’t be very sweet when cooked. You’ll need a frying pan, a spatula, and a knife, as well as some towels or a mesh rack to drain the plantains. Assume one plantain per person.
To peel a plantain, cut it into thirds widthwise and then run your knife under the peel—it’s more stubborn than a regular banana peel. Slice the plantains into rounds, about ½” thick; if you cut them too thick, they’ll end up burning. Pour ¼” – ½” of vegetable oil into the frying pan, and heat it on medium-high (depending on your stove). Add the plantain in a single layer; it’s fine to cook it in batches. Cook for one to two minutes, until the bottom is golden-brown, and then flip the plantains and repeat. Drain and serve hot.