You can’t go anywhere near a self-respecting restaurant in Italy without catching a whiff of some fresh figs. The rich fruit is decidedly complex, leading chefs to experiment with sweet and savory applications. That being said, you’ll typically net good results if you work within the Italian pantheon. We’d recommend incorporating fresh figs into a red wine ossobuco sauce, wrapping them in prosciutto, or dunking them in chocolate.
- Peak Season: August-October
- Favorite Varieties: Celeste, King, Marseilles
- Try Cooking: Fig ossobuco & prosciutto wrapped figs
Bright in more ways than one, rhubarb has a tart tang that is practically made for fine-dining desserts. By pairing rhubarb with sweet fruit like strawberries or aromatic ingredients like coconut or jasmine, you can enhance the entire flavor profile without losing the underlying tartness. There are few better places to start than with a strawberry rhubarb semifreddo; the Italian dessert is somehow rich, airy, and creamy all at once.
- Peak Season: April-June
- Favorite Varieties: Colorado Red, Holstein Bloodred, Mammoth
- Try Cooking: Rhubarb compote with crème fraîche & strawberry/rhubarb semifreddo
Although the name may conjure up images of a dusty desert, cactus pears are actually quite sweet and refreshing. With this in mind, we generally lean towards desserts or cocktails when using the colorful fruit. Naturally, cactus pears are killer in margaritas, but we like to bring things up a notch by adding fresh cactus pear juice to a vodka martini and garnishing with a fresh slice. Otherwise, create some cactus pear infused simple syrup for a subtler approach!
- Peak Season: September-April
- Favorite Varieties: Cardona, Juana
- Try Cooking: Cactus pear martini
Even if it didn’t have a mind-boggling flavor that balanced sweet, tart, and acidic notes all at once, starfruit would make it on our menus due to its eye-catching shape. While you may immediately think dessert when working with this tropical fruit, we’d recommend venturing into the savory side of things; try tossing fresh starfruit to a sirloin steak marinade and add some fresh pieces to the plate after grilling.
- Peak Season: October-April
- Favorite Varieties: Dwarf Hawaiian, Golden Star, Newcomb
- Try Cooking: Starfruit steak
When your parents are plums and apricots, you’re practically guaranteed to have a classy flavor profile. Pluots pair the approachable sweetness of apricots with the juicy texture of plums to create a fruit that can be used throughout the day. They have a short season too, meaning that your customers will be dying to get a chance to taste any limited time item. Luckily, pluots are flexible to tons of flavor profiles; we’ve seen chefs start the day with pluot bellinis and finish by topping pork tenderloins with pluot sauce!
- Peak Season: May-September
- Favorite Varieties: Black Kat, Flavor Supreme, Flavorosa
- Try Cooking: Pluot bellinis & pork tenderloins with pluot sauce.