A few weeks ago, I was pushing my cart around the farmstand market where I buy my produce and meats. In a bit of a hurry, I tossed in heads of romaine and red onions, garlic cloves and new potatoes, and various other items destined for the dinner table. By nature, I'm a slow shopper, a browser, a considerer of possibilities. Whenever I can, I like to leisurely stroll the aisles of the market, imagining recipes as I go.
If I find a great piece of meat on sale all the way over at the butcher counter, I may have to double back to the produce section to pick up some mushrooms to saute. A special at the cheese counter on the other side of the store will send me happily back to produce again, to hunt down some red grapes. I'll admit that this stop-and-smell-the-rosemary approach to grocery shopping takes a bit longer. But that's sort of the point.
Unfortunately, this is precisely the reason that my dear husband hates to shop the farmstand market with me. He doesn't cook - at all, ever - so the charm of ingredient browsing is lost on him. Although he's ever by my side on weekly flour-sugar-cereal-laundry detergent-paper towels-cat litter superstore runs (thank heavens!), he doesn't come along to the farmstand market with me, and I don't have to feel rushed there. Except, of course, when I am.
So, I'm not cooking as I go on this day. I'm shopping for a preplanned dinner, which is due to hit the table in an hour or so. It's meant to be a quick shop, just what I need this time, for this one meal. Nevertheless, I can't stop myself from veering past the "marked to move" shelf on my way to the meat case. And it's there, amid the heads of grievously wilted lettuce and postholiday candy, that I find my treasure: a paper sack of tenderly overripe kiwifruit, more than thirty of them, for a mere pittance. I sling it - gently - into my cart and head off in search of steak. Unaccustomed to hurrying, I don't stop to consider what, exactly, I am going to do with nearly three dozen overripe kiwifruit.
It occurs to me that kiwifruit have a lot in common with kittens. Small, fuzzy, beloved by children: they're edible cuteness. Interestingly, kiwifruit are actually berries, hence their other handle, the "Chinese gooseberry."
I like to eat kiwifruit raw, in slices, or diced in fruit salads. I know that if I take the trouble to peel and cut them up, they're one fruit that will not come home in my kids' lunch boxes.
Kiwifruit are high in vitamin C - their tartness gives that away. I didn't realize, however, that they have twice the vitamin C of an orange, or that they're recognized as the most nutrient-dense fruit. Also, a serving of 2 kiwifruit has 4 times more fiber than a cup of chopped celery! Who knew?
Kiwifruit also contain significant amounts of lutein; vitamins E and K; and calcium, folic acid, potassium, iron, magnesium, and copper. A medium kiwifruit has no fat, almost no sodium, 4 grams of fiber, and about 45 calories. Be still my beating heart!
And what did I do with three dozen kiwifruit that turned out to be too soft to eat sliced or diced? Some, I blended into smoothies, with yogurt, orange juice, frozen strawberries from my backyard strawberry patch, and a bit of honey. Others, I blended into kiwi daquiris, both virgin and naughty. But by far the best thing I did with those kiwis was turn them into a wonderful emerald-green sorbet. The pulpy texture of the overripe kiwis turned out to be perfect for this recipe. If you can, get your kiwifruit on the soft side for sorbet - the end result will be a sorbet that is dense and smooth, almost creamy, with no iciness at all.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
10 large kiwifruit, very ripe
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt
1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let sugar syrup boil for 1 minute, stirring; then remove from heat. Let cool over an ice bath, or place in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.
2. Peel and quarter kiwifruit; add to food processor with cold sugar syrup, lime juice, vanilla, and salt. Process until smooth puree. Chill kiwifruit puree until cold.
3. Stir puree and add to ice-cream machine; process according to manufacturer's directions. Freeze finished sorbet for at least 3 hours prior to eating.
Makes about 1 quart; adapted from Bruce Weinstein's The Ultimate Ice Cream Book.