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Summer Fruit Parfaits

Ripe fresh fruits layered with yogurt in elegant balloon wineglasses make a deceptively simple dessert. Thyme and lemon zest add intriguing flavors to the seasonal mix of fruits, while honey encourages the fruits to release their juices.

Ingredients:

  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs 
  • 1 large nectarine, pitted and thinly sliced 
  • 8 large strawberries, stemmed and each cut lengthwise into 4 slices 
  • 1 large peach, peeled if desired, pitted and thinly sliced  
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest  
  • 1/4 cup wildflower or raspberry honey, or other mild-flavored honey
  • 1 kiwifruit, peeled, halved lengthwise, then each half cut crosswise into thin slices 
  • 1 cup blueberries 
  • 2 2/3 cups nonfat lemon yogurt 
  • 4 fresh mint sprigs (optional) 

Directions:

Place the thyme sprigs on a cutting board and smash them 2 or 3 times with the side of a heavy knife or cleaver to bruise the leaves. Place the thyme in the bottom of a wide, shallow dish. Arrange the nectarine slices in a single layer over the thyme. Arrange the strawberry slices over the nectarine slices. Arrange the peach slices over the berries. Sprinkle the lemon zest evenly over the fruit, then drizzle with the honey. Set aside for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at room temperature. During this time the fruits will release more juices, which will mix with the honey to form a light syrup in the bottom of the dish.

Add the kiwifruit slices and blueberries to the macerated fruits and, using a fork, gently mix all the fruits to coat evenly with the honey syrup. Remove the thyme sprigs.

To assemble each parfait, use a slotted spoon to scoop up 1/4 cup of the fruit, pausing to allow it to drain well over the bowl, and place it in the bottom of a balloon wineglass. Stir the yogurt until it is creamy. Spoon 1/3 cup of the yogurt over the fruit in an even layer. Using the slotted spoon, scoop up 1/2 cup of the fruit, again making sure it is well drained, and arrange it on top of the yogurt. Layer another 1/3 cup of the yogurt on top. Finally, place 1/4 cup well-drained fruit in the center. Repeat to make 3 more parfaits.

Serve the parfaits immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Let stand for 20 minutes at room temperature, then garnish each parfait with a fresh mint sprig before serving. Serves 4.

Variation:
Winter Fruit Parfaits
  Substitute 1 Golden Delicious or Fuji apple, cored and thinly sliced; 1 Bosc pear, cored and thinly sliced; 1 ripe Fuyu persimmon, thinly sliced; 1 small banana, sliced; and 1/2 cup seedless red grapes, halved lengthwise, for the nectarine, strawberries, peach, kiwifruit and blueberries. Use nonfat vanilla yogurt flavored with 1 tsp. ground cinnamon in place of the lemon yogurt.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).