Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits. Generally speaking, I love fruit, so this may come as no surprise. Pineapples long fascinated me with the way the turned up in weird places: the pediments of houses, carved into furniture, ceramic figurine. I learned, when I took a course in American Architecture several years ago, that the pineapple began as a symbol of hospitality in the 17th and 18th centuries. No wonder I kept noticing it turning up in such odd places. Europeans discovered them on Columbus’s second expedition to the New World. The fruit itself had migrated all over the Americas as indigenous populations moved around. So, the pineapple became a very popular fruit for sailors to bring home from overseas trips. It’s chock full of vitamin C, so they ate it to ward off scurvy. Often, men returning home from sea would leave a pineapple outside their front door to let everyone know they were home (life was harder without Twitter). Many people would be gifted with the rare fruits. But how bewildered might you be if you were presented with this?
Well, that’s where I’m here to help you. Preparing a pineapple is actually pretty easy, as long as you have a sharp knife. And, the flavor of a fresh pineapple – it’s amazing. I’m not about to knock canned pineapple, because I almost always have some around. But, fresh pineapple is healthful and inexpensive for the amount of fruit you get.
Take the pineapple, and cut the top off. Then slice off the bottom. You now have a fruit that is stable. Set it on end, and slice the peel off the pineapple. When all the peel is sliced off, inspect the fruit and pick out any remaining dark eyes with the tip of your knife.
You will then have a cylinder of pineapple. Lay it on its side and slice it into round 1/2″ thick. Then, with a sharp paring knife, cut the hard core out of each slice. You will be left with pineapple rings! You could eat these as is, grill them, cube them, cook them down into sauce.
However, we’re going to turn some of this fresh pineapple into pineapple salsa. I grilled spicy pork tenderloin for tacos (recipe forthcoming!), and topped it with this pineapple salsa and fresh guacamole. Amazing! The pineapple salsa is sweet and spicy, with succulent pieces of fruit that tame the wild heat of a spicy marinade. It’s simple to make, and it can be made ahead of your main course. I made mine earlier in the day, but it could be made the day ahead. We polished this batch off the following day with the leftover pork and it was still delicious. In addition to the usual fruits and veggies in this salsa, I dress it with honey and lime juice whisked together. This prevents the fruit from drying out, and it makes the flavor a little more complex and fruity. It’s also best to use a knife to chop the salsa components, to keep the pineapple cubes intact.
Fresh Pineapple Salsa
- 1 C pineapple, in small dice
- 1/2 C red onion, in small dice
- 2 jalapenos, seeded, deveined, and minced
- 1 T cilantro, chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
- 1 T honey
- juice of 1 lime
In a medium bowl, combine the pineapple, red onion, jalapenos and cilantro. Stir well to mix homogenously, and season with salt, pepper, and the ancho chili powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and the lime juice. Pour the honey-lime mixture over the salsa and toss well to combine. Chill until ready to serve, then toss again before serving.
Makes 1 1/2 C of salsa.