When you’re having a dinner party, a unique fruit or vegetable can be a great conversation starter. Exotic produce can be a mysterious addition to any meal. You can find something with a special color, texture, or flavor to bring to the table. Some exotic produce items have special stories or meanings behind them. Others have interesting health benefits that might interest your guests. Let’s talk about five exotic produce options that will have your guests curious and excited to try.
Dragon fruit/Pitaya- red yellow or white
Dragon fruit has a sweet, subtle taste. It can be paired with a variety of ingredients to achieve a range of flavors. It tastes a bit like kiwi but a bit bland. It pairs well with pineapple, bananas, kiwi, oranges, and strawberries. Dragon fruit is high in fiber and has been known to help with weight loss and heart and gut health. It's sometimes called the strawberry pear. Red dragon fruits have more antioxidants and flavor than the white variety. Simply slice the dragon fruit in half and serve it to guests with a spoon. It can also be used as a garnish.
Sweet Tamarind is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. It can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. These lumpy brown pods are legumes that come from the evergreen Tamarind tree that comes from the pea family. They’re filled with fruity, sour pulp that sticks to the seeds. The pulp extract can help with weight loss and the seed extract can lower blood sugar. It is grown most often in tropical regions. It has edible fruit and a sour pulp. The pulp is used to flavor food, drinks, and even to make some medicines. Sweet Tamarind can be used in various Thai, Mexican, and Indian recipes
Jackfruit are large, spiky greenish-brown masses that are quite heavy, about 15 pounds. It should have a strong, sweet smell and be soft enough to leave a gentle dent with your finger when it’s perfectly ripe. They should be sliced in half to remove the fruit pods and seeds. Use gloves or lots of oil to remove the pods to keep the thick, sticky sap inside from making a mess. The fleshy pod that protects the seed is its fruit. The seeds are edible and nutritious but they have no flavor on their own. They are said to help with digestion and lowering cholesterol levels. Jackfruit has become a popular meat alternative for vegans.
Purple Cauliflower has a bit milder flavor than the white variety with an added sweetness. The color fades a bit when it’s cooked. It makes a bright, healthy addition to any dinner. Purple cauliflower can be served raw with other vegetables and a flavorful dip or spread as an appetizer. It can be seasoned and roasted with garlic and parmesan or added to a stir-fry.
Large Asian Pears
Asian Pears are large firm fruits, much like an oversized apple. Each weighs nearly a pound yet they’re only about 50 calories each. They have a crisp white interior with a sweet flavor. Cut the pear in half and then quarters. Peel the quarters and remove the core before you eat it. Asian Pears can be cut into slices and arranged on a tray to be served. They could be chopped and used to garnish a salad.