Entertaining: Seasonal Fruits

Spring is in the air and the assortment of fresh fruit at the Union Square Market is becoming more and more plentiful. Shiny New Jersey tomatoes & strawberries, endless varieties of apples, and the beginning of juicy peaches whet the appetite and inspire creative seasonal recipes. 

Two weeks ago I took an entertainment themed cooking class with Sindi Kaplan at the Central Synagogue. Sindi prepared a wonderful meal using key seasonal ingredients which brought out the sweetness of Spring and the ease of using readily available ingredients. The sweetness of the meal was reflected in all of the dishes she’d made from the fresh fruits used in the lite tropical sangria to currants in the brown basmati rice. The flavors in each dish flowed from start to finish, which is sometimes difficult to achieve when a meal has multiple components. 

I enjoyed Sindi’s seasonal recipes so much that I decided to put my own spin on what was already a delicious and easily preparable meal for a crowd. As I always say, be creative and use what you have! The more you cook, the more knowledgeable you’ll be on substituting ingredients. In this case, I used mango and apple instead of peaches since I had those ingredients fresh on hand. Apples are great fruits to cook with as their flavors deepen and greatly enhance a chicken dish like the Ginger Chicken with Seasonal Fruits Sindi created. 

Ginger Chicken with Mango &

Spring fruits like strawberries and even oranges are great to add to salads, as peaches cook well with chicken and pork. Figs are another wonderful and versatile fruit which I haven’t seen in the stores yet, but am looking forward to using in some other spring inspired dishes. 


Please feel to use the recipes below to evoke the inner chef in you this Spring. 

Whole Wheat Cous Cous with Apple, Raisins & Green Onions

Ginger Chicken with Mango, Apples, & Red Onions

Orange Salad with Red Leaf Lettuce, Goat Cheese, Red Onion, & Candied Nuts


Curried Chicken Penne with Peach Chutney

Maybe it’s because I live in “Curry Hill” but I’ve really taken a liking to curry and just Indian food in general. I’ve made a few curries in my day and this is my favorite recipe so far. Usually I head over to Kalustyan’s, which is a great specialty food shop in the neighborhood. I get all my exotic spices there, as it’s very convenient and reasonably priced!

I initially saw the recipe for Curried Chicken Penne with Fresh Mango Chutney on Cooking Light.com and never got around to making it. I slightly altered the recipe, as the original was a bit too sweet for my taste. But I must admit that the addition of pasta is a great substitute for rice given its texture and tastes even better when served the next day! This dish was teriffic and very easy to make, though it does require using multiple pans. If you have mango chutney on hand or can make it a day ahead I would recommend using it so there is less of a cleanup. Using something on hand also cuts back on cooking time.

I also substituted peach for the mango in the chutney and only used 1 tbsp brown sugar total to reduce the sweetness. I tend to like my curry a little spicy so I added 1/2 tsp of tumeric and used chili paste instead of red curry paste.

Before you go ahead an make this delicious dish, I would like to pass on a few pointers:

  • If you cook curries or thai food on somewhat of a regular basis, I suggest purchasing a bottle of fish sauce as the flavor is much more suited to this dish (though soy sauce would suffice)
  • You should probably cook the three main components of this dish simultaneously (pasta, chutney, & chicken) so be mindful of the cooking time each part is called for
  • I also suggest simmering the chutney on low heat after it boils to synchronize the timing with the chicken and pasta. The great thing about the chutney is that you can continue to add small amounts of water as it simmers, without lessening the flavor, if it begins to dry out



  • 2 cups diced peeled ripe mangos or peaches (about 2)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water (use accordingly)
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped peeled fresh ginger (or ground ginger)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste (or red chilli paste)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 4 cups hot cooked penne rigate (about 2 cups uncooked tube-shaped pasta)
  • 2 medium – large saucepans
  • 1 medium pot (pasta)


1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates and mixture is thick, stirring occasionally.

2. While the chutney is simmering, heat oil in a separate large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chicken; sauté 5 minutes. Combine coconut milk and next 4 ingredients (coconut milk through fish sauce), stirring with a whisk. Add coconut mixture to pan; bring to a simmer. Add broccoli and cauliflower; cover and cook 7 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in chutney and pasta; toss well to combine.