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Tropical Fruit Kabobs with Rum Sauce

At the end of a barbecue, use the still-hot fire to grill these succulent kabobs. Brief searing transforms the taste of each fruit by caramelizing its sugars. Select slightly underripe fruits so they will hold together on the grill. The rum sauce spooned generously over the grilled fruit is so rich that you will not believe it is fat-free. The distinctive flavor of the sauce comes from aromatic cardamom, a distant relative of ginger.

Ingredients:

For the rum sauce: 

  • Juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 cup), strained 
  • 1/2 cup dark rum 
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 
  • 4 cardamom pods 
  • 3 orange zest strips, each 3 inches long and 1 inch wide 
  • 2 lemon zest strips, each 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide 
  • 1 whole clove 
  •   
  • 2 pineapple slices, each 1 inch thick, cut into 1-inch cubes 
  • 2 bananas, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces  
  • 1 large peach or nectarine, halved, pitted and cut into 8 equal pieces 
  • 1 large mango, peeled, pitted and cut into eight 1 1/4-inch cubes 
  • 8 bamboo skewers, each 8 inches long, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained 

Directions:

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill and oil the grill rack.

Meanwhile, make the rum sauce: Combine the orange juice, rum, brown sugar, cardamom, orange and lemon zests and clove in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the sauce steep for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the whole spices and citrus zests, reserving 2 strips of the orange zest and discarding the rest. Chop the orange zest and stir into the warm sauce.

Thread onto each skewer in the order given: 1 pineapple cube, 1 banana piece, 1 peach piece, 1 mango cube, 1 banana piece and 1 pineapple cube.

By charcoal grill: Using tongs, place the kabobs over the hottest part of the fire and grill, turning them as needed, until lightly marked on each side, about 3 minutes total. Transfer to a serving plate.

By gas grill: Using tongs, place the kabobs directly over the heat elements and grill, turning them as needed, until lightly marked on each side, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a serving plate.

To serve, place 2 kabobs on each individual plate. Spoon the warm sauce liberally over the kabobs, using 3 to 4 Tbs. for each serving. Serve lukewarm. Serves 4.

Variation:
Tropical Fruit Kabobs with Coconut Sorbet
  Divide the warm sauce evenly among shallow serving bowls. Place a scoop of coconut sorbet in each bowl and slide the fruit off the skewer onto the sorbet. Serve immediately.

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