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ROASTED PINEAPPLE WITH COCONUT YOGHURT + TOASTED WALNUTS

Pineapples are big here in Portugal. On a recent work trip to the Azores islands, a Portuguese archipelago in the middle of the North Atlantic, I saw 'luxury' pineapples growing in greenhouses, carefully tended for over a year before they reach maturity. The Azores are warm enough year-round for this to be possible. So called 'blemish-free,' a quantity of these special pineapples are then harvested, carefully packed so as not to bruise, and shipped over to the Europe's finest restaurants and markets. The flavour is more delicate, and the scent more fragrant, than a pineapple from further south. At least, that's what the farmers state. They certainly look different: caramel-coloured, squat and round. I flew back to Lisbon keen to try something with this fruity treasure. 

Pineapple greenhouses on São Miguel island, The Azores

Pineapple greenhouses on São Miguel island, The Azores

A cleansing recipe in the spirit of a new year, and of supporting the immune system during these colder months, this recipe should satisfy your perhaps currently maligned sweet tooth. I used coconut blossom sugar, which is a low GI natural sugar with a deep colour and caramel taste. Coconut oil is in there too, plus lime zest, juice and black pepper. If you have mint to hand, or maybe thyme, that would be a nice addition when you're ready to serve. Otherwise, it's a pretty easy recipe that can cook gently in the oven while you're doing other things. An ideal light dessert for a dinner party, or for you food-preppers: make a batch on sunday and you've got breakfast sorted for the week. 

Pineapple is a fantastic choice for bolstering the immune system. Rich in vitamin C, Vitamin A and beta-carotenes for antioxidant support, and the powerful free-radical-battling manganese. Pineapples are also high in essential minerals such as potassium and copper, which can help regulate blood pressure and reduce inflammation. A source of amino acids such as tryptophan, eating pineapple may help combat depression and anxiety (we could all do with a bit of help in the SAD months). Last but certainly not least, pineapple is rich in Bromelain, an enzyme that helps the body break down proteins, which can aid digestion, absorption of essential elements and can reduce inflammation. Some studies have linked bromelain to reducing arthritis and even helping fight cancer. 

You'll know if a pineapple is ripe when the colour is golden on the outside and the leaves are all dry on the top. It should smell fragrant. Avoid using a green pineapple, just wait a week for it to ripen.

ROASTED PINEAPPLE WITH COCONUT YOGHURT + TOASTED WALNUTS

  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 6 tbsp coconut blossom sugar or nectar
  • juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • pinch sea salt

To serve

  • Coconut, sheep, goats, or greek yoghurt. Crème fraîche or ice cream also work.
  • Handful of walnuts, shelled
  • mint or thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 180C. Prepare the pineapple by cutting off the top and bottom to create a sturdy base. Stand the pineapple on the base and cut away all the rough skin. If your pineapple has got a lot of 'eyes' then use a small knife to cut them away. Now cut the pineapple into long wedges, top to bottom, and remove the hard core from each slice. 

Over a low heat combine the lime juice, zest and coconut sugar in a medium pan. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the black pepper, salt and coconut oil. Stir well until the oil is melted. Now place your pineapple slices in the pan and coat completely in the marinade. Leave for a few minutes to stand if you have time. Prepare a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. 

Transfer the pineapple wedges to the baking sheet and pour over half the marinade. Place in the oven to roast for around 50 minutes. Half way through, remove the tray, flip the wedges and pour over the rest of the marinade. Return to the oven. When golden, remove from the oven and leave to cool. While the pineapple is roasting, toast the walnut pieces on a medium heat in a dry pan until golden. Remove walnuts from heat and set aside to cool. 

To serve, place a couple of wedges on a plate, spoon on some yoghurt or crème fraîche and scatter toasted walnuts on top. Finish with a drizzle of the marinade from the baking tray. 

Prep time: 15 mins. Cook time: 50 mins.