Warm Winter Fruit Stew

I had to make this salad twice today, because the first time I made it I thought my brilliant idea of including thinly sliced shallots would do the trick and make this stew something special.  That was most definitely not the case.  The second time I made it, I stuck with what felt right: a little bit of sugar, olive oil, and pepper sprinkled on the fruits, along with some freshly chopped thyme.  This combination produced the results I was looking for: sweet, refreshing and extremely light, with some added depth and flavor from the olive oil and pepper.

This salad came about mainly for two reasons:  firstly, because I've had an over-indulgent weekend, having eaten a delightful Moroccan dinner at Chez Omar Friday night (where I ate some of the best couscous I've ever had in my life), and having attended a cremellaire (house-warming party) last night, where I proceeded to drink more champagne than I care to remember. 

Thus, I was happy and hoping to make something light and extremely healthy for lunch today.  I got inspiration to use thyme with fruits from my new boss at Elle.  Although working for a fashion magazine means that I don't get to spend my days dreaming about, looking at, and discussing food as I would like, I do find occasional moments to talk about the many fascinations of eating with my co-workers.  Cristina (my boss), described a dinner menu she was planning for the weekend, and brought up an easy and wonderful grapefruit appetizer consisting of fresh thyme, olive oil, and sugar, which she picked up from Elle a Table (the cooking magazine produced by Elle in France every other month).  I decided to expand this idea a bit and add other fruits to the mix, and that is how this warm winter stew has come about.

I think it would taste absolutely divine with some brioche bread, muffins, or pound cake to dip in the sweet fruit sauce, or it could be served along with some yogurt, granola, or nuts.  I intended this salad to be an appetizer or light lunch, but I think this could be served as a dessert as well. 

Warm Winter Fruit Stew - Serves 1

Use any or all of the following fruits:
1 apple
1 pear
1 grapefruit
1 blood orange
1 orange
1 lemon

Remaining stew ingredients:
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp sugar
lots of freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
1. If using an apple or pear, peel the fruit, cut off the root and stem, and cut in half length-wise. Cut out the center, and slice each half into 3 or 4 pieces length-wise; place in an oven-proof bowl or dish.
2.  Peel all of the citrus fruits, taking care to remove as much of the pith (the white stuff directly surrounding the fruit) as possible.  Working over the bowl, cut the fruits into segments - you want to keep their juices.
3.  Spread the chopped thyme evenly over the fruits, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with the sugar and freshly ground black pepper  (about a teaspoon, more if you really like the kick of pepper.)
4.  Place in the oven and bake until warm, about 10 minutes.  Voilà!


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