As I write this entry, sunlight is streaming in through my morning kitchen and I’m noticing a myriad of lush green feijoa, otherwise known as pineapple guava, nestled in the grass under our evergreen tree.
With today’s generous harvest decorating the landscape, you would hardly know that I just collected two full bags of the fragrant egg-shaped fruit yesterday afternoon.
My only wish is that I could ship a bucket full to each and every one of you as it’s simply not possible to keep up with our harvest. We’ve been donating generously.
As you might imagine, pineapple guavas are an entirely new experience for this Canadian family. We observed with great anticipation and hopefulness through the summer as the delicate white flowers on the tree eventually transformed into tiny burgeoning green fruit. Amazing just how small life starts out. By early fall, our beautiful feijoa tree was producing fruit in the range of one to four inches long with great vigor and abundance.
The pineapple guava is a highly aromatic fruit. I would describe it as floral to the point of almost being ‘perfumy’ — a characterization my husband heartily disputes suggesting that tropical is a much more flattering and accurate description. (He loves his feijoa) and so do we.
The best way to harvest feijoa is simply to allow the fruit to fall from the tree and the simplest way to enjoy it is to cut the fruit straight through the center and scoop out the pulp with a spoon. This works well for enjoying the fruit on its own or for incorporating it into smoothies, preserves and all manner of baked goods (breads, muffins, loaves and desserts). You can also peel the exterior green skin (as I have done in this recipe) and slice the pineapple guava for salads and side dishes.
Surrounded by feijoa, the big question was what to make with this delightful fruit…
I came across recipe after recipe of baked goods and desserts incorporating pineapple guava, many of which sounded delicious, but I just wasn’t in the mood (maybe next year).
The turning point came on my flight home from Canada this week.
I watched the movie Julie & Julia (again), and I couldn’t get beurre blanc off my mind.
Fearlessness and butter.
Perfect. Suddenly, I knew exactly what I wanted to make.
If you have not yet seen the movie based on two true stories, (one of blogger Julie Powell and the other of Julia Child’s debut in the culinary world), you must. It’s just one of those feel good inspiring stories that will put a big smile on your face and get you dreaming in color.
- FOR THE SAUTEED SPINACH:
- 1 large container baby spinach (approx 280 grams/10 oz)
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- ¼ cup dried wild blueberries (substitute cranberry or dried fruit of choice)
- 2 cups oyster mushrooms (approx 180 grams/6.5 oz), chopped (substitute mushroom of choice)
- 4 feijoa (pineapple guava), peeled and sliced (substitute 2 apples or pears)
- FOR THE BALSAMIC BEURRE BLANC:
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp white wine (substitute vinegar for alcohol free version)
- 1 Tbsp minced shallot
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice + zest for garnish
- 1 tsp honey
- 4 Tbsp butter (I used salted), cut into 4 pieces (about one tablespoon each)
- In a small bowl, whisk together: balsamic vinegar, white whine, shallots, lemon juice and honey.
- Add mixture to a small skillet and heat until it starts to simmer and the liquid reduces by about half.
- Add the butter to the skillet, one piece at a time, whisking to combine. Continue whisking until the butter is well combined and the beurre blanc emulsifies into a heavenly sauce-like mixture.
- Taste the beurre blanc and make any seasoning adjustments desired -- salt, pepper, honey, etc. as desired.
- In a large skillet add 1 Tbsp of the beurre blanc and toss in the red onion and oyster mushrooms to brown - about 1 or 2 minutes - remove onion/mushroom from skillet and set aside.
- In the same large skillet, add another tablespoon of beurre blanc and toss in the spinach. Using a wooden spoon or tongs, sauté the spinach just until it is saturated (it will reach a deeper color and look wet). Be careful not to overcook the spinach -- you want it to take on a soft and silky texture but you don't want it to be mush. This should take less than one minute. Best to err on the side of undersaturated.
- Working quickly, return the onion/mushroom mixture to the skillet with the spinach and add in the blueberries and sliced feijoa (or apple/pear) to warm through. Make any final seasoning adjustments as desired.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
2. There is really only one time to enjoy a warm spinach sauté and that's right from the pan. So unlike many other dishes, this is not one I would recommend reheating or bringing to a potluck.
3. Two suggestions for obtaining optimal sear on mushrooms - gently brush the mushrooms with minimal water to clean them (mushrooms already contain abundant water and will turn to mush if soaked in water) and give the mushrooms plenty of room in the pan.
4. Oyster mushrooms (along with shiitake, maitake, enoki, and other Asian species) are reputed for their medicinal benefits, notably immune-enhancing and anti-cancer properties. Harvard medicine graduate, Dr Andrew Weil, writes prolifically on this subject.