Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Simple and Healthy Compote

“Compote,” is a French word that translates into “mixture.”  It is a dessert that originated in 17th century France.  Fresh or dried fruits were cooked with sugar during a gentle heating process to create a lighter-than-jam-like consistency, with the individual fruits retaining their unique identities.   







Now that we are in the 21st century, where fast-paced is the motto of the times, I have found that a modified compote recipe accomplishes several objectives.  This delightful desert not only deliciously fulfills one’s dietary requirement for fruit intake, but can also be ready in just about 10-15 minutes.  And in the process, your compote can prevent any guilty feelings stemming from disposing of neglected, seemingly withering plums, berries and grapes on the bottom shelf of your fridge by instead making use of them.   So don’t throw these guys out just yet!  You forgot about them once, and now they deserve a second chance to show you how delicious they can be!   







Ingredients:
Any fruit in your fridge (Most recently I had 3 plums, a healthy looking nectarine and about ¼ pound of grapes on their death bed.  Apples, berries, apricots, peaches, grapes all work well).  
Water
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of vanilla extract
Half-teaspoon honey or sugar
1-tablespoon fresh basil chopped

Instructions:
Cut up fruit into 1-inch pieces (or 2-inch depending on your preference).  If you have berries or grapes, you can add those in whole.  Fill the pot with about an inch of water (you want to cover about half to ¾ of the fruit).  Heat on high and once boiling, add cinnamon, vanilla extract, honey and basil and stir (if you want to use a different herb such as thyme or mint, feel free or you don’t need to use an herb at all).  Reduce heat to medium and allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes.  The mixture will thicken into a nice syrup-like consistency.  Enjoy hot or chill in the fridge and enjoy cold!

PS- There are many variations of this compote.  For example, add a touch more sweetener if you would like, or leave out completely.  Add a twist of lemon if you are in the mood for some sour.  You can enjoy this alone or garnished with some fresh mint or basil.  And on those days when fruit alone wont suffice, add on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream (or better yet fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt) or your Sunday morning pancakes/French toast.  And finally, if you are in the mood for even more of a punch, add just a splash of Chambord, bourbon, rum or vodka just after you reduce the heat to medium.  Bon appétit!  :-) 

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